The 2020 Employment Law Symposium is postponed due to the COVID-19 outbreak. We are working on rescheduling and will announce a new date as soon as possible. 

Guest Speakers

Thomas M. Colclough, Deputy District Director
Charlotte District Office of the U.S. Employment Opportunity Commission

Thomas M. Colclough began his career with EEOC in 1988. He has held various positions such as Investigator, Enforcement Supervisor, Local Office Director of Greensboro, NC, Local Director of the Richmond, Va. Office and Area Director of the Raleigh Area Office.  Since June 1, 2014, Tom has served as the Acting District Director of the Charlotte District. 

 As the Deputy District Director of the Charlotte Office, he provides guidance and direction to support the EEOC's national and local enforcement plans. His office model ensures that employees focus on the Commission's top priorities, and he works to motivate all employees to work together on common goals.  He works closely with the District Director and other management employees within the Charlotte District.

Mr. Colclough graduated from Saint Augustine's College with a Bachelor of Science degree in Business Administration. He received his Master of Arts degree from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro ("UNCG"). He also earned a Certificate in Global Studies from UNCG. 

Mr. Colclough served in the military for 23 years (active and reserve). In 2005, Colclough retired from the North Carolina National Guard at the rank of Lieutenant Colonel.  He is also a graduate of the Army's Command and General Staff College.

Scott Cole
Director of Human Resources
Physicians East, P.A.

Picture and bio are coming soon!



Jennifer Rasile Everitt
Assistant General Counsel Global Labor and Employment
PRA Health Sciences

Picture and bio are coming soon!



Lea Wharton 
Director of Human Resources
Highwoods Properties

Lea is an established Human Resources executive with experience in all areas of Human Resources. She is a creative thinker, experienced at crafting initiatives that drive business results. Lea received her B.S. in Communications from Salem College and attended UNC-CH Kenan Flagler Talent Management Institute.

A native of Rocky Mount, she got her start in Human Resources after college in a small family run business. Over her career, she has held leadership roles in global, private, and public companies. 

In January, Lea celebrated her fifth anniversary as the Director of Human Resources with Raleigh-headquartered Highwoods Properties, a 41-year old publicly-traded real estate investment trust. Four hundred nineteen employees strong, Highwoods owns, develops, acquires, leases, and manages over 28 million square feet of office space in ten markets across the southeast. In her role at Highwoods, Lea is responsible for developing and executing H.R. strategy in support of the overall strategic direction of the company, specifically in the areas of succession planning, talent management, change management, organizational and performance management, and learning and development.  

Lea is a member of the Society for Human Resources Management (SHRM). She is a member of WorldatWork and CAI's HR Peer Learning group.  Lea enjoys attending sporting events, spending time with her family and friends. 

Ward and Smith Speakers

Ken Gray
Labor and Employment Attorney

Ken's practice experience encompasses various areas of employment-related litigation.  He advises clients and litigates cases involving all forms of employment discrimination, wrongful discharge, and breach of employment contracts from small start-up companies to Fortune 500 corporations.  Ken is a frequent lecturer on employment discrimination, workplace retaliation, workers' compensation, and wage and hour law issues.  He has been rated by his peers as being "preeminent" in his fields of law and serves in leadership roles with various legal and civic organizations.  Ken is a former president of the Craven County Bar Association, a former two-term president of the Board of Directors for the United Way of Coastal Carolina, and Chairman of the Deacons of First Baptist Church of New Bern.

Xavier LightfootXavier Lightfoot
Labor and Employment Attorney

Xavier's practice focuses on a wide range of labor and employment law issues, including personnel policies and handbooks, background checks, employment discrimination and harassment, employee discipline and termination, drug and alcohol testing, and various wage and hour matters. Additionally, he assists in the construction practice section with civil litigation surrounding contractor or subcontractor disputes.  Xavier worked with Ward and Smith as a Summer Associate before joining the firm permanently. Additionally, he served as a legal intern with Red Hat and the Local Government Federal Credit Union. 

Emily Massey
Labor and Employment Attorney

Emily's practice focuses on a wide range of labor and employment law issues, including personnel policies and handbooks, background checks, employment discrimination, and harassment, employee discipline and termination, drug and alcohol testing, and various wage and hour matters.


Will OdenWill Oden
Labor and Employment Attorney

Will's practice experience encompasses various areas of employment and workplace-related counseling and civil litigation in both the federal and state courts at the trial and appellate levels. He regularly represents employers and employees before the United States Department of Labor (USDOL), the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), the Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA), the North Carolina Department of Labor (NCDOL), the North Carolina Industrial Commission

Grant OsborneGrant Osborne
Labor and Employment Attorney

Grant's practice experience of more than 30 years encompasses a wide range of issues that arise in employment and labor law. He provides counsel to clients in the health care, financial, hospitality, construction, business services, employee staffing, and non-profit sectors. Grant represents clients in state and federal courts as well as administrative agencies. He regularly advises employers of all sizes and litigates civil cases regarding all forms of employment discrimination, wrongful discharge, unlawful retaliation, contractual issues, personnel policies and practices, and wage and hour issues. 

Grant also has advised and represented employers with respect to their rights and obligations arising under laws pertaining to collective bargaining and labor unions. He is a frequent lecturer regarding all aspects of the employment relationship that arise under numerous federal and state laws. He often represents employers before the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, the National Labor Relations Board, and federal and state "wage and hour" agencies. He also serves as a mediator and is certified by the North Carolina Dispute Resolution Commission. Grant served as the Chairman of the North Carolina Bar Association's Labor and Employment Law Section (from 2015 to 2016).

Hayley Wells
Employment Law Attorney

Hayley's practice primarily focuses on alcoholic beverage law, labor and employment law, and civil litigation.  She regularly advises individual and corporate clients in matters of covenants not to compete, employment discrimination, discipline and termination, harassment, wrongful discharge, wage and hour matters, personnel policies and procedures, and preparation of employee handbooks and employment agreements.

Devon Williams 
Labor and Employment Attorney

Devon leads the Labor and Employment practice. Her practice focuses on a wide range of labor and employment issues, including wage and hour matters, federal contractor compliance, employment discrimination and harassment, employee discipline and termination, personnel policies, and background checks. In matters relating to employee benefits, she concentrates on issues confronting welfare benefit plans (such as medical, dental, and other plans) and their sponsors, including the provisions and impact of the Affordable Care Act.