BizVoiceExtra: All Sides of the Law

Bill Barrett heads the litigation group at the Williams Barrett & Wilkowski law firm in Greenwood. He says his background after graduating from Indiana University Law School (Bloomington) is invaluable in his current role.

Barrett was a clerk for both the Indiana Court of Appeals and the Indiana Tax Court. He followed that by becoming a prosecutor in Johnson County and then serving as magistrate for the Johnson circuit and superior courts.

“I’ve worn so many hats over the years that the system of advocacy that our legal system is based on is almost second nature to me,” he says. “I’m able to see things from another perspective, which is always handy. Young lawyers tend to be too committed to their positions. … When somebody says there are two sides toe very story, I say there are at least two sides.”

Barrett does appellate, campaign and election work, among other areas of focus. He also represents a variety of law enforcement agencies.

“I find that those (past) experiences have given me a breadth of perspective that have let me work in different areas, which is part of what makes us nimble and able to get along at a level of 10 lawyers – and not down to two or three, or have to jump up to 40 or 50.”

Barrett was joined by Chuck Baldwin of Ogletree Deakins and Heather Wilson of Frost Brown Todd for a roundtable discussion on the legal profession in our current BizVoice® magazine. You can read the full story at

Harassment Can Appear in Any Workplace

The buzz around the National Football League today is an unsettling harassment situation in the Miami Dolphins' locker room. Jason La Confora of writes on the uncomfortable details (below). Note that Richie Incognito has been suspended by the team for his alleged behavior and an investigation is ongoing. The incident came to light after Jonathan Martin left the team following what was described as an "emotional breakdown."

Among the texts that Jonathan Martin made available to his parents, and then, eventually the Dolphins and the NFL, include those in which Richie Incognito refers to Martin, who is biracial, as a "half-n*****," according to a source who was privy to the communication.

There are several instances of threats as well, the sources said, and overall disturbing exchanges, including one in which Incognito refers to defecating in Martin's mouth.

Incognito also made reference to tracking down members of Martin's family and harming them in the texts as well, according to a source.

In some instances, that kind of rhetoric might be shaken off or ignored, but, given the track record of incidents between Incognito and Martin, and how sustained it had become, Martin truly felt that Incognito might be capable of inflicting harm, and for his safety getting away from the team was in his best interests.

The NFL, apprised of the evidence, began upper-level meetings on the case this morning as it launches its investigation. People with access to some of the exchanges believe in time this situation could become a springboard for further policies and practices at the league-wide level in regards to hazing, verbal harassment and perhaps also stricter codes in terms of financial harassment and actions whereby rookies are required by veterans to pick up excessive tabs and bills as a rite of passage.

Workplace harassment is a topic that all employers need to be educated about. For your convenience, the Chamber offers the Indiana Guide to Preventing Workplace Harassment, authored by attorneys at Ogletree Deakins.

We’re Looking for the Top HR Person in the State

Human resources professionals probably too often fall in the "taken for granted" category. You know, the dependable, they’ll get done what needs to be done mentality.

I counter that the HR job is probably one of the most dfficult, balancing the needs of the employer while trying to best serve individual employees and their needs. A tough job in any economic environment, but one that’s probably even more challenging in the current downturn.

Ogletree Deakins and HR Dimensions of Indianapolis have recognized leaders in the HR field since 2005 with the Human Resources Professional of the Year award. Nominations for 2009 are open, with an April 3 deadline. The award presentation takes place May 6 as part of the Chamber’s 45th Annual Human Resources Conference & Expo.

Check out the details and nomination form.

Your Business Could Be Put on the Hot Seat by Asking Wrong Questions During Interviews

With so many rules governing hiring processes, it’s easy to unknowingly violate a law when discussing a job with a potential candidate. That notwithstanding, how you simply advertise the job requires strong consideration. The Interviewing Guide, written by the law firm Ogletree Deakins and published by the Indiana Chamber, provides an overview of state and federal laws and their applicability to the hiring process. It includes practical tips on avoiding employment litigation and handling the discipline, discharge and arbitration processes.

The book can also be purchased with a CD-ROM, which includes the entire text of the book in searchable format and gives you access to Microsoft Word versions of the included sample forms and letters. Additionally, don’t forget about the the Indiana Chamber’s Supervisor’s Kit. This kit includes several Chamber products that all supervisors should have on hand for quick answers to compliance-related questions.