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NJL People: Veena A. Iyer

Veena is the Executive Director of the Immigrant Law Center of Minnesota, and she is currently Of Counsel to the firm to support client and firm transitions.  From 2015 to 2019, Veena served as a Shareholder in the firm’s Labor & Employment group, and from 2018 to 2019, she was chair of the firm’s Diversity & Inclusion Working Group. Veena is a passionate leader who understands, energizes and activates organizations and their stakeholders.  She is also a skilled and creative problem solver who excels at leveraging teams to analyze and resolve complex employment and organizational issues. Veena is a past president of the Minnesota Asian Pacific American Bar Association, a past board member of Minnesota Women Lawyers, and the recipient of MNAPABA’s Leadership Award, MWL’s Service to MWL Award, and Minnesota Lawyer’s Diversity & Inclusion Award.

Key Industry Experience

  • Manufacturing
  • Retail
  • Health Care
  • Financial Services
  • Nonprofits

Representative Matters

  • Representing employers in EEOC proceedings alleging class claims of discrimination based on age, denial of religious accommodations, and conduct of criminal background checks.
  • Negotiated favorable settlements in putative class actions involving claims of failure to provide religious accommodations under Title VII, public-benefits discrimination under Minnesota law, and wrongful use of credit reports under the FCRA.
  • Second-chaired trial in Weber v. Minnesota School of Business and represented MSB on appeal.
  • Successfully defended charges of discrimination and unfair labor practices before the EEOC, NLRB, and state and local administrative agencies.
  • Successfully negotiated early settlements with regard to demands and charges alleging violations of federal and state employment laws.
  • Successfully obtained TRO in favor of nonprofit client in trade name dispute.

Recognitions and Honors

  • Selected to Minnesota Super Lawyers list, 2019
  • Minnesota Lawyer Diversity & Inclusion honoree, 2018
  • Service to Minnesota Women Lawyers Award, 2018
  • Lawyers of Color Inaugural Midwest Hot List, 2013
  • Listed in Minnesota Rising Stars, 2015
  • Law Clerk to The Honorable Natalie E. Hudson, Minnesota Court of Appeals (2010-2011)
  • Law Clerk to The Honorable Susan N. Burke, Hennepin County District Court (2009-2010)
  • Equal Justice Works Fellow and Staff Attorney, Legal Assistance Foundation of Metropolitan Chicago (2006-2009)
  • Law Clerk to The Honorable Matthew F. Kennelly, U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois (2005-2006)

Publications and Presentations

  • Moderator, “Creating and Running an Arbitration Program – In-House Counsel Only,” Minnesota CLE, 2019 Upper Midwest Employment Law Institute, May 20, 2019
  • “Finding the Right Candidate – Recruiting, Screening and Background Checks,” Minnesota CLE, 2019 Upper Midwest Employment Law Institute, May 20, 2019
  • Qtd. in “Is an internship worth your time?“, Careers Now, September 16, 2018
  • “Vetting Talent Without Drawing a Claim: Conducting Legally Compliant Background Checks,” Minnesota CLE, 2018 Upper Midwest Employment Law Institute, May 22, 2018
  • “Best Practices for Sexual Harassment Investigations in the Wake of #MeToo,” Minnesota CLE, 2018 Upper Midwest Employment Law Institute, May 21, 2018
  • “Best Practices for Sexual Harassment Investigations in the Wake of #MeToo,” 2018 Business Law Institute, Minnesota CLE, May 7, 2018
  • “High Risks in Human Resources,” 2018 CliftonLarsonAllen Annual Nonprofit and Health Care Conference, May 2, 2018
  • “Performance and Involuntary Terminations – Making the Connection,” Minnesota Council of Nonprofits, February 23, 2018
  • “Human Resource Essentials,” Small Business Series, Saint Paul Chamber of Commerce, September 21, 2017
  • “Employee Screening: Improving Talent While Minimizing Risk,” Tough Employment Law Questions, Minnesota CLE, September 13, 2017
  • “Employment Law in a New Administration: Federal Actions, Local Reactions,” Minnesota Continuing Legal Education 2017 Nonprofit Law Conference, March 14, 2017
  • “Public Affairs Series: Contribution & Collaboration: A Conversation Centered on Immigration,” Saint Paul Area Chamber of Commerce, April 26, 2016
  • “UBIT Issues for Associations, Tax Hot Topics, Contracts and Employment Law,” Midwest Society of Association Executives, February 17, 2016
  • “Ethics: Protecting Client Confidences During (and After) Investigations,” 2015 Upper Midwest Employment Law Institute (with Sejal D. Winkelman)
  • “Managing Privilege During (and After) the Investigation,” Internal Employee Investigations Handbook, May 2015
  • “Communicable Diseases: What’s an Employer to Do?”, The Corporate Counselor (May 2015) (co-authored with Elizabeth Winchell and Sarah Riskin)
  • Your Legal Flu Shot: Tips for Handling Outbreak Concerns in the Workplace (April 2015)
  • “An Employment Law Check Up,” 2015 Nonprofit Law Conference, Minnesota CLE (March 16, 2015)
  • “What to Do? Some Questions and Answers About Measles at Work,” Associated Press (February 4, 2015) (quoted with regard to employer rights and obligations)
  • “Can Your Boss Make You Get Vaccinated?” Wall Street Journal (February 4, 2015) (quoted with regard to employer rights and obligations)
  • 2015 Employment Law Updates, Minnesota Council on Nonprofits Human Resources Networking Lunch (February 2015)
  • “Insights: The Abercrombie & Fitch employee religious accommodation case,” Chain Store Age website (Nov. 25, 2014)
  • “The legal issues in the Ebola spread,” Minnesota Lawyer (Nov. 3, 2014) (quoted with Elizabeth Winchell)
  • “What Employers Can Learn From the Abercrombie Religious Discrimination Case,” available at and (Oct. 14, 2014)
  • “Business Forum: Addressing Violence Among Workers,” Minneapolis Star Tribune (Oct. 5, 2014).
  • “Unpaid Interns: Worth the Risk?” Focus (A Publication of the Midwest Society of Association Executives) (June 2014)
  • “Women’s Economic Security Act Expands Employer Obligations,” Minnesota Council of Nonprofits website and publications (May 2014)
  • “Business Forum: For Nonprofits, Helping Hands Turn Costly,”Minneapolis Star-Tribune (Dec. 1, 2013)
  • Quoted in “Pitfalls of Employee Volunteerism and How to Avoid Them,” Society for Human Resources Management website (Sept. 13, 2013)
  • “Managing Volunteers: Maximizing Resources While Minimizing Liability,” Focus (A Publication of the Midwest Society of Association Executives) (June 2013)
  • “Minnesota Adopts Ban-the-Box Legislation,” Minnesota Council of Nonprofits website and publications (May 2013)
  • “Liability Waivers,” Minnesota Council of Nonprofits website and publications (May 2013) (with Ben Johnson)
  • “Business Forum: Ban-the-Box Bill Advances in the Minnesota Senate,” Minneapolis Star-Tribune(May 5, 2013) (with Joe Schmitt)
  • “Intimate Partner Violence at Work,” Westlaw Emp’t J. (April 3, 2013)
  • “Criminal Background Checks: Preventing or Creating Liability?”  The Corporate Counselor  (Sept. 2012)

Professional Associations

  • Minnesota Asian Pacific American Bar Association, the 2014 national association’s affiliate of the year
    • Immediate Past President (2014 – 2015)
    • President (2013 – 2014)
    • President-Elect (2012 – 2013)
    • Secretary (2011 – 2012)
    • Member (2009 – present)
  • Minnesota Women Lawyers
    • Board Member (2015 – present)
    • Foundation Board Member (2014 – 2015)
    • Foundation Task Force Member (2012 – 2014)
    • Nominations Committee Member (2013)
    • Community Action Committee Co-Chair (2011 – 2014)
    • Member (2010 – 2011; 2014 – present)
  • Twin Cities Diversity in Practice
    • Junior Lawyers Committee (2012 – present)
  • Harvard Law School Twin Cities Alumni Association
    • Advisory Board Member (2010 – present)

Community Engagement

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