Kara S. Nickel is a Shareholder in the Labor & Employment Department. Representing exclusively employers, Kara focuses her practice employment litigation and counseling, including discrimination, harassment, retaliation, whisteblower, reasonable accommodations, leaves of absence, and wage and hour claims, and employment, separation and restrictive covenant agreements. She partners with clients to provide practical, business-focused guidance on the full range of legal issues involving employees and the employment relationship.
Kara also counsels employers in connection with developing and maintaining affirmative action programs, and responding to audits by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs (OFCCP).
Kara is a frequent presenter and trainer (for human resources and management employees) on topics including the American with Disabilities Act (ADA), Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), wage and hour compliance, cybervetting/electronic monitoring of employees and family responsibilities discrimination. She is also a regular contributor to the firm’s labor & employment law blog, BeLabor the Point.
- Representation of employers in state and federal courts on discrimination, harassment, retaliation ADA reasonable accommodation, FMLA interference or retaliation, whistleblower retaliation, breach of contract and other claims.
- Frequently appears before the EEOC, as well as state and local EEO agencies, to represent employers in charges of discrimination, harassment and retaliation. Kara’s experience includes representation of employers in the agency mediation process, preparation of position statements, preparation of witnesses for interviews by agency investigators, and negotiation of conciliation agreement and remedial measures.
- Regularly counsels employers on the full-range of employment issues, including employee performance management, discipline and terminations, FMLA compliance and non-FMLA leaves of absence, ADA reasonable accommodations, and internal investigations.
- Representation of employers in wage and hour litigation and threatened claims under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and Florida law. Counsels employers on wage and hour compliance and best practices, including workplace policies and classification of workers as exempt/nonexempt and employee/independent contractor.
- Drafts employee handbooks and workplace policies and counsels employers regarding policy implementation.
- Regularly drafts and negotiates employment, separation and restrictive covenant agreements on behalf of employers for senior executives and employees.
- Conducts training of human resource professionals and management and non-management employees on a variety of topics, including FMLA compliance, ADA reasonable accommodations, preventing workplace harassment, and wage and hour compliance.
- Defense of public accommodations and government entities in lawsuits regarding the accessibility of physical spaces, services and websites by individuals with disabilities under Titles II and III of the Americans With Disabilities Act, and the Florida Civil Rights Act. Counseling of clients on ADA compliance and service animal requirements under the ADA and Florida law.
- Special Counsel to the City of Coral Gables, Florida, on employment matters and accessibility and non-discrimination requirements under federal and state laws in connection with services and programs offered to the public.
Professional & Community Involvement
- Human Resources Association of Broward County (HRABC), Member, 2014-present; Legislative Director, 2015 & 2016
- Academy of Florida Management Attorneys (AFMA), Membership & Website Committees
- The Florida Bar, Labor and Employment Section, Member
- Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM), Member
- American Bar Association: Equal Employment Opportunity Section (Equal Rights and Responsibilities Committee) and Young Lawyers Division, Member 2004-2012
- Volunteer, Saint Mark the Evangelist Catholic School, Southwest Ranches, Florida
- Volunteer, Cub Scouts Pack 117, Southwest Ranches, Florida
- Florida Super Lawyers Rising Star, 2009-2015 (a distinction awarded to less than 2.5% of lawyers each year)
- Florida Trend’s Legal Elite , “Up and Coming Legal Elite” 2004, 2006
- University of Miami School of Law, Law Review
- University of Miami School of Law, Order of the Coif
- University of Miami, Phi Beta Kappa
Publications & Presentations
Advanced Skills for Employee Leave Management
2017 FMLA Master Class: Florida |February 2017
Employee Smart Phones: Smile, Your Meeting is Streaming Live and In Color
BeLabor The Point Blog|January 2017
FLSA Update: Salary Level Changes
The Children’s Trust
Employment is Now-But is a Separation Agreement Still Forever?
BeLabor The Point Blog|October 2016
How Does Time Off Due To A Hurricane Affect Your Employees’ Pay?
BeLabor The Point Blog|October 2016
New EEOC Wellness Guidelines and Incentive Programs Under the Affordable Care Act
GMSHRM 2016 Legal Update |September 2016
For Immediate Posting In Your Workplace: Updated Minimum Wage and Polygraph Posters
BeLabor the Point Blog|August 2016
ADA-HR Insomnia: Dealing With Things That Keep You Up at Night
Stearns Weaver Miller's 26th Annual Labor and Employment Law Seminar|May 2016
In the Media:
Can separation agreements stop ex-employee claims?
What's Working in Human Resources|March 2017
Stearns Weaver Miller Presents 26th Annual Labor & Employment Law Seminar
In the Media:
Weather call-outs? Can we dock exempt workers’ pay?
What's Working In Human Resources|October 2015
Stearns Weaver Miller Lawyers Recognized in Florida Super Lawyers 2014
Stearns Weaver Miller Presents 24th Annual Labor and Employment Law Seminar