It’s On! CLM’S Workers’ Comp, Restaurant, Retail & Hospitality Conference Is This Week with Can’t Miss Speakers and Sessions

The three-day virtual conference features a packed agenda full of educational sessions and networking opportunities you can’t miss.
By: | May 11, 2021

As vaccination efforts continue in America, people within the workers’ compensation, risk management and insurance industry are eager to get back to in-person conferences and events. 

The networking and knowledge sharing that happens at industry conferences is invaluable. While virtual events have stepped up to provide continuing education at this critical time, many are looking forward to trading Zoom screens for conference halls.  

But before you jump on a plane and grab your badge for an in-person meeting, there is one more virtual event you can’t miss: The Claims and Litigation Management (CLM) Alliance’s 2021 Workers’ Compensation and Restaurant, Retail and Hospitality conference

Held over three days from May 12-May 14, the conference features a packed, 30-session agenda and a plethora of virtual networking opportunities. 

A Jam-Packed Agenda

As they have in past years, CLM has put together a robust program for the conference featuring a wide range of topics affecting the workers’ comp, restaurant, retail and hospitality sectors. Session topics range from how the hospitality industry can make sure their websites are ADA compliant to how PTSD affects frontline workers. 

Each day will feature at least three blocks of concurrent sessions. May 12 and 13th will also feature Premier Sessions from 1:40-2:40 p.m. eastern time. The May 12 session is on “Compensability Now and Claims Handling Post COVID-19 Vaccine” and the May 13 is “Bouncing Forward: Recovering from the Emotional Trauma of COVID-19.”

“This year’s conference offers great opportunities for virtual networking and a robust program of interesting topics and speakers. It is a great chance to connect with other professionals and gain new information on pressing issues impacting the industry,” said Lisa Rolle, partner at Traub Lieberman Straus & Shrewsberry LLP. Rolle serves as co-chair of the advisory board for the Restaurant, Retail, and Hospitality Community.   

Building off the success of last year’s virtual event, the conference will continue to use an interactive platform that will help bridge some of the gaps between an in-person and a virtual experience. The first two days of the conference will also feature virtual networking opportunities from 4:15-5:15 p.m. eastern time. 

“While the format may be unlike a traditional in-person conference, the conference organizers have coordinated an event that will provide valuable networking and program opportunities to those who attend,” Rolle continued.   

Other topics covered during the conference include how cryptocurrency and digital payment apps are affecting the gig economy, how workers’ comp is affected by increases in telecommuting and the top legal concerns for the restaurant, retail and hospitality industries. 

“The topics being covered this year get me more excited than I have seen in previous years. Why? Because we are heading into the new age of workers’ compensation and brand-new space for restaurant, retail and hospitality,” said Dr. Claire Muselman, vice president of the Workers’ Compensation Center of Excellence at North American Risk Services. 

Another strength of the conference is the wide variety of perspectives brought by featuring speakers from different backgrounds. 

The conference emphasizes bringing in not only a diversity of professions by having attorneys, claims managers and other workers’ comp and safety professionals speak, but also through making sure to elevate the voices of women and people of color who are often under-represented in the industry

“I always look forward to, not just the topics which are always fresh, always new, always timely, but also always enjoy the diversity of the speakers and the different perspectives that they bring on,” said attorney Rafael Gonzalez, partner at the law firm Cattie & Gonzalez. Gonzalez will be speaking at the conference during the session “The Evolving Story of COVID and Workers’ Compensation.”

COVID-19 and Its Aftershocks

Even with more people getting vaccinated in the U.S., the world is still very much in the thick of the COVID-19 pandemic — India is seeing a massive spike in cases while at the same time facing a shortage of vaccine doses. 

The pandemic’s effects on the workers’ comp, restaurant, retail and hospitality industries also aren’t over. COVID-19 left many businesses in these sectors with huge financial losses, and recovery may not be straightforward. As such, several sessions will focus on COVID-19 and how it has reshaped the futures of these industries. 

“[Those] watching the workers’ compensation industry HAVE to take stock in mental health, emotional well-being, and social determinants of health, because it is in our face with the pandemic,” Muselman said in an email. Despite the challenges, she added, the pandemic “is one of those necessary events that was needed [to push the industry forward].”

Muselman will speak alongside David Vittoria, senior vice president at Carisk Partners; Lindsey Mills, an attorney with Smith, Mills & Schrock Law Firm; and Alaa Zuaiter, AVP of claims at Berkley Environmental during the conference’s May 13 Premier Session, “Bouncing Forward: Recovering from the Emotional Trauma of COVID-19.” 

The session will look at how COVID-19 has affected mental health, with a focus on the trauma caused by the pandemic and the increased risks of employee burnout that come with remote work. 

“The pandemic has really shaken our foundation,” Muselman said. 

“When we have to shift from having control over the basic necessities we require just to survive — like having enough food and the ability to get it at anytime, or trusting that we have clean air to breathe — when we go from that to not being able to leave our homes, worrying so much that we can’t sleep, [and] having to wear a mask because of an airborne pathogen …  it creates a plethora of fear and anxiety because we have no idea what comes next. There is no end in sight and when we attempt to grasp a sense of normality, it is no longer there.”

In addition to the trauma caused by the pandemic itself, the rapid shift to remote work has blurred the lines between people’s professional and personal lives, accelerating burnout rates. In April of 2020, an Eagle Hill Consulting poll of just over 1,000 U.S. workers found that 45% experienced burnout.   

“Employees have joked they now live at work. We are working more hours than ever before and people are burning out at a drastic rate,” Muselman said.  

Another session that will look at the effects COVID-19 has had on workers’ comp is “The Evolving Story of COVID and Workers’ Compensation.” The session will look at the different regulatory, legislative and judicial actions that were put in place as a result of the pandemic and it will examine how the workers’ comp market reacted to the changes. 

“One of the immediate things to take away is: politics matter,” Gonzalez said. 

“You know in our workers’ comp world, there are some states that are considered employee-friendly, there are some states that are considered employer-friendly, and then, you know, there are lots of states that sort of sit in the middle.” 

Gonzalez, who will be speaking in the session alongside Fred E. Karlinsky, co-chair of Greenberg Traurig’s Insurance Regulatory and Transactions Practice Group and David Langham, deputy chief judge for the State of Florida, has spent the last year collecting data on the pandemic. 

One of his primary takeaways is that states like California, which are considered employee-friendly and which adopted wide-ranging pandemic presumptions, are seeing more COVID-19 related workers’ comp claims. Gonzalez hopes that these data points will help give a sense of how the virus has affected the industry — something nearly every session on the pandemic will be seeking to illuminate.  

“I’ve been collecting data almost since the very beginning [of the pandemic] and so a lot of folks asked me to speak about some of those numbers and what they say to all of us,” Gonzalez said. &

Courtney DuChene is a freelance journalist based in Philadelphia. She can be reached at [email protected].

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