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Meet BLR’s in-house team of HR experts


BLR’s HR and training software and resources are powered by our team of employment law experts. Our in-house team keeps subscribers in the know about what’s affecting HR regulations as they happen. Using their combined experience of 100+ years, our team of HR industry experts answer your questions, develop resources and guidance documents, and make real-time updates as laws and regulations change.

celeste duke headshotCeleste Duke, SPHR, Managing Editor

Celeste Duke, SPHR, oversees BLR’s HR content team. Celeste understands the existing and emerging needs and challenges of human resources professionals thanks to several years of experience managing, writing, and editing key publications for BLR. Her areas of concentration include diversity & inclusion, workplace trends, and employee training. Before coming to BLR, she was the business editor for The Daily Herald in Columbia, Tennessee. Celeste earned her bachelor’s degree from David Lipscomb University and a master’s from Middle Tennessee State University, where she also taught writing. ​

Areas of expertise–Diversity, Training

ArticlesRecruiting and hiring strategies to support your diversity, equity, and inclusion efforts


jeanna-crocker-headshotJeanna E. Crocker, J.D., SHRM-SCP, Senior Legal Editor

Jeanna E. Crocker, J.D., SHRM-SCP, is a Senior Legal Editor with more than 10 years’ of experience in legal research and writing. She currently edits the Family and Medical Leave Handbook and the Leave and Disability Coordination Handbook. Ms. Crocker is also responsible for researching, updating, and maintaining information concerning the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), paid sick leave, maternity and pregnancy, discipline and termination, and violence in the workplace.

Areas of expertise–Leave and Termination (Jury Duty/Court Appearance, Layoff, Leave of Absence (FMLA), Maternity & Pregnancy, Military Service, Personal Leave, Sick Leave, Vacations)

ArticlesHow to spot and stop FMLA abuse, Essential elements of workplace violence prevention plans, An employer’s role in preventing and responding to domestic violence,  USERRA: Returning veteran employees to work


collette-labate-headshotColette Labate, J.D., M.B.A., P.H.R. Senior Legal Editor

Colette has worked in legal publishing for over 20 years, since graduating from Drake Law School with high honors in 1999. She later obtained an M.B.A. in Management and Marketing from the University of Colorado at Colorado Springs while managing large legal content development teams. She currently writes and edits in the areas of employee handbooks, hiring, telecommuting, background checks, references, and preemployment inquiries, among others. She also manages the BLR Employee Handbook Builder, a completely browser-based system that allows users to build, access, and update state-specific employee handbooks.

Areas of expertise–Hiring, HR Administration, and Performance Management (Background Checks, Discipline, Employee Handbooks, Hiring, Job Description, Performance Appraisal, Pre-employment Inquiries, References/Reference Checks, Telecommuting, Turnover)

ArticlesFive steps for creating inclusive job descriptions, Considerations when crafting multi-state employee handbooks, Employee handbook telework policies, Performance evaluation do’s and don’ts for employers


joan-farrell-headshotJoan S. Farrell, J.D., Senior Legal Editor

Joan S. Farrell, J.D., is a Senior Legal Content Specialist for BLR’s human resources and employment law publications. She writes extensively on the topics of workplace discrimination, unlawful harassment, retaliation, and reasonable accommodation. Joan is the editor of the ADA compliance manual—ADA Compliance: Practical Solutions for HR. Before coming to BLR, Joan worked as in-house counsel for a multistate employer where she represented management in administrative matters and provided counseling on employment practices.

Areas of expertise–Discrimination and the ADA (Age Discrimination, Alcohol & Drugs, Complaints & Investigations, Disabilities, Equal Pay/Comparable Worth, Sexual Harassment, Unions)

ArticlesFighting race-based hair discrimination – CROWN Act laws, Reasonable accommodations under the Americans with Disabilities Act


nancy-mcdermott-headshotNancy McDermott, J.D., Senior Legal Editor

Nancy has over 20 years of experience in legal writing and editing. She has written articles on developing employment law issues, HR newsletters, and new hire documentation, and writes and edits The Personnel Advisor, a human resources employment law reference manual. Ms. McDermott earned her Bachelor of Arts degree in Criminal Justice from the University of Texas at San Antonio, and her law degree from Vermont Law School.

Areas of expertise–Documentation and Recordkeeping (Immigration, Employment Contracts, Notices/Posting, Records)

ArticlesEmployment contracts: Will Noncompete agreements soon be obsolete?, Managing mandatory workplace posters and notices, Best practices for maintaining Form I-9 compliance

jennifer-brown-headshotJennifer Brown, J.D., Senior Legal Editor

Jennifer Brown, J.D., is a Senior Legal Editor for BLR’s human resources and employment law publications, focusing on wage and hour topics. Prior to joining BLR, Jennifer worked as a commercial litigator in private practice and served as an attorney-advisor for the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, where she advised senior management on various human resources and employment law issues. Jennifer earned her B.A. in Peace, War, and Defense at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, and her law degree from Elon University.

Areas of expertise–Wages, Hours of Work, and Compensation (Bonus Payments, Callback/Report-in Pay, Child Labor, Contingent Workers, Deductions from Pay, Exempt Personnel, Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA), Hours of Work, Independent Contractors, Minimum Wage, Overtime, Paychecks, Payroll Administration, Rest Periods, Severance Pay, Time-keeping, Travel Time)

ArticlesIndependent contractors vs. contingent workers, Shift changes and predictive scheduling laws

kelly ryan headshot

Kelly Ryan, J.D., Senior Legal Content Specialist

Kelly Ryan, JD, is a Senior Legal Content Specialist, focusing on providing, editing, and updating content related to employee benefits compliance, including the Benefits Reference Guides. Before coming to BLR, he worked as in-house legal counsel for various retirement service providers and the Colorado health insurance exchange. Mr. Ryan received his law degree from DePaul University College of Law and a B.S. in Accounting from the University of Illinois. He is a member of the Colorado bar.

Areas of expertise–Employee Benefits (Affordable Care Act, Benefits Recordkeeping and Disclosures, Disability Insurance, ERISA, Flexible Benefits/Cafeteria Plans, Fringe Benefits, Health Care Insurance, Health Information Privacy (HIPAA), Health Insurance Continuation/COBRA, Retirement, Retirement Savings and Pension Plans, Social Security/Medicare, Unemployment Compensation, Withholding)

ArticlesState of the states 2024: Keeping up with state-sponsored retirement programs


cristina fahrbach connnors, blr senior legal content specialist

Cristina Fahrbach-Connors, J.D., PHR, Senior Legal Editor

Cristina Fahrbach-Connors, JD, PHR, is a Senior Legal Editor/Content Specialist for BLR’s human resources and employment law publications, focusing on providing information and assistance to BLR subscribers via the HR Hotline. Before joining BLR, she represented employers, employees, and unions in employment law matters. She also worked as a human resources management professional for several nonprofits. Ms. Fahrbach-Connors earned her law degree from the Fordham University School of Law and her B.A. English with a concentration in Creative Writing from Rutgers College. She is a member of the New York State bar.

Accomplish more with integrated solutions that provide actionable templates and workflow resources for writing job descriptions, creating and maintaining a digital employee handbook, accurately classifying employees, automated risk assessments, and access to a team of HR industry experts. To learn more and schedule a consultation, click here.

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