Overview

Crystal S. McElrath practices workers’ compensation defense as well as employment law defense and counseling, specializing in disability and leave laws. She regularly advises, trains and defends clients related to wage and hour, discrimination and human resource laws.

Crystal represents clients in a number of industries including food sales, medical transport services, counseling and staffing.

She also handles numerous workers' compensation matters; Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) charges of age, racial and religious discrimination; Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) overtime and minimum wage cases; unemployment claims; Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) lawsuits; drafting of employee handbooks; conducting internal audits; and negotiating employment contracts.

Crystal has successfully tried more than 85 percent of her litigated cases in favor of the employers and insurers she has represented. She has also successfully defended four appeals. Twice, Crystal co-authored amicus briefs to the Supreme Court of Georgia on a question of which workers’ compensation statute of limitations applied for claims involving statutory penalties for late indemnity payments. Crystal also co-authored a brief to the Georgia Court of Appeals on the question as to whether medical benefits constitute “compensation” such that payment for medical treatment would trigger the status of limitations for controverting workers’ compensation claims.

Crystal’s method of thought and mindfulness is highly influenced by her unique perspective developed while studying at Emory University's Center for the Study of Law and Religion. She simultaneously studied law and theology, creating a system of thinking that taught her to deeply examine the meanings of intersections. For clients, this means decisions are always balanced in consideration of business and the personal concerns attached to all outcomes. Crystal seeks a balanced and highly personalized solution for each case, which also drives strategies that balance the client’s legal needs with their business’ success and profits.

Memberships

  • Defense Research Institute

  • Young NonProfit Professional Network

  • Georgia Association of Black Women Attorneys

  • American Bar Association

  • Georgia Defense Lawyers Association – Co-Chair, Workers' Compensation Section

  • Georgia Asylum and Immigration Network – Volunteer
  • Pro Bono Partnership of Atlanta – Volunteer

Interests

In her free time, Crystal enjoys volunteering with Georgia Asylum and Immigration Network and Pro Bono Partnership of Atlanta. She loves to run and cheer for her hometown team, the Steelers. She is also an Atlanta Ballet season ticket holder.

Newsroom

Publications and Presentations

Publications

  • “Workplace Pregnancy Protection Laws: More Than Just Family Medical Leave Act,” Workforce, November 2018
  • “Investigation and Claims Handling Strategies for Willful Misconduct Defense” Claims Journal, August 2018

  • Co-author, "Expecting Accommodations: Best Practices for Accommodating Pregnant Employees," Employee Benefit Plan Review, June 2018

  • Co-author, “Navigating the Willful Misconduct Defense," Association of Corporate Counsel Docket, April 2018

  • Co-author, "Federal Regulations Update," Employment Relations Today, January 2018

  • "Preventing the Fast-Break: Defending the Workers' Compensation Claim Before it Becomes an Employment Law Lay-Up," Compensation Courier, Defense Research Institute, April 2016

Presentations

  • “Safety Policies that Protect Employees and Employers” Presented at Georgia Safety, Health and Environmental Conference, September 2018

  • “Double Duty: Reconciling Employee Handbook Policies to Comply with Federal Employment Laws and the Georgia Workers’ Compensation Act,” Presented at the 2018 SHRM Georgia Legal Summit, May 2018

  • “Houston, We Have a Problem: What to Do When Workers’ Compensation Laws and Employee Handbooks Conflict," Presented at the Georgia State Board of Workers’ Compensation Annual Educational Conference, August 2017

  • "Taboo: Navigating Hiring, Firing, Leave and Disability Conversations without Running Afoul of ADA, FMLA and Workers' Compensation Laws," Presented at the Nonprofit Risk Management Center's Risk Summit, September 2016

  • "Practical Aspects of Death Claims and Dependency," Presented at ICLE GA Workers' Compensation Law Institute, October 2014

Bar Admittances

  • Georgia

Education

  • Emory University School of Law (J.D., 2010)
  • Duke University (Cert. in Nonprofit Management, 2015)
  • Emory University (M.T.S., 2010)
  • University of Virginia (B.A., 2006)
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