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North Bay Business Journal

Monday, May 16, 2011, 7:18 am

Law: Leap Solutions grows; ruling on ‘employment loss’

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    Shawn Spaulding, Tracy Knoll, Maria Hernandez

    Leap Solutions Group, a Santa Rosa-based consultancy and human resources management firm, is in expansion mode after securing an SBA loan that will enable it to double its office space as it seeks to add more services.

    The group secured a $150,000 loan and $50,000 line of credit from Redwood Credit Union, according to Chuck McPherson, a partner with the group, who said Leap will expand its recruiting and consultant services.

    To do so, Leap has brought on four HR and recruiting veterans Shawn Spalding, a former AppleOne branch manager, Tracy Knoll, a HR veteran, Maria Hernandez, a veteran in organizational development, and Teri Powell, office administrator and recruiting specialist.

    “We more than doubled our office space,” Mr. McPherson said. “This was all geared around a couple of things, and one is our recruiting arm. We’ve never advertised that side.” He said the group always assisted clients with such services, but never explicitly offered it.

    “It puts a full circle on the business we do. Recruiting was the one component that wasn’t at Leap and now it is,” Mr. McPherson said.

    The group will remain in the same office park at Waterfall Towers but will increase its space from 900 square feet to approximately 2,100 square feet.

    The move comes as the group tries to grow its presence locally, with Sonoma and Marin counties seen as areas for growth, according to Mr. McPherson.

    “One of the things that people don’t realize is that we are based locally. We do a lot of work nationally, but strategically, we are looking at Novato and Marin for our next venture. We want to continue to expand our footprint,” said Mr. McPherson, who before Leap Solutions was a senior HR manager at Hewlett-Packard and Agilent Technologies.

    At one point in the recent past, Mr. McPherson said Leap explored a partnership with a staffing company to expand its recruitment arm, but decided to keep it inhouse.

    Leap said it has grown 200 percent since 2009. The new hires should help it expand further, according to Scott Ormerod, a partner with Leap.

    “Our firm gains significant ground in our ability to service high profile executive searches, human resource compliance requirements and organizational growth planning initiatives across all industry sectors,” Mr. Ormerod said.

    ***

    The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals issued two decisions recently that may be viewed as less-than favorable for employers.

    In Collins vs. Gee West Seattle, the court ruled that employees who leave voluntarily after learning that the employer may cease operations still have suffered an “employment loss” and are therefore entitled to 60 days pay, as mandated by the Worker Adjustment and Retraining Notification Act.

    A district court had sided with the employer, which argued that since the employees had left voluntarily, there was no “employment loss” and therefore no coverage. The Ninth Circuit Court reversed the decision and sided with the employees, saying that the 60-day notice requirement occurs when an employer foresees such an “employment loss” and that employer failed to provide the 60 days notice, despite the employees leaving voluntarily.

    In Harris vs. Maricopa County, the Ninth Circuit limited an employer’s ability to recover lawyers’ fees in a discrimination suit. The court said that only fees that are attributable solely to defending a frivolous claim may be recovered.

    ***

    Fred Pryor Seminars, an international seminar series, will hold a one-day seminar in Santa Rosa on Aug. 4 on payroll law. It will be held at the Flamingo Resort Hotel.  More information can be found at events.pryor.com/258152

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    Submit items for this column to Dan Verel at dverel@busjrnl.com, 707-521-4257 or fax 707-521-5292.

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