Kelly S. Hughes

Shareholder Charlotte

Kelly Hughes has spent her career advising and supporting private and public employers across multiple industries and in various forums. Kelly is a nationally-recognized authority on workplace flexibility and guides clients in creating and/or enhancing workplace flexibility tools in a manner that balances the business needs of the client with the various employment laws that may be implicated. She authored the legal chapters of the book Workflex: The Essential Guide to Effective and Flexible Workplaces as well as the Workflex and Employment Law Pocket Guide for SHRM’s When Work Works initiative. Kelly travels around the country delivering presentations on this and other cutting-edge topics, such as transgender rights in the workplace, to assist employers in creating an inclusive work environment for their employees.

Within Ogletree, Kelly is the co-chair of the Retail Industry Group, a member of the EEOC Litigation Practice Group and the Higher Education Group, the co-chair of the Business Resource Group ODFamily, a reduced hours advisor, and an ambassador to the Professional Development Committee.


Kelly is an experienced advocate in both administrative and court settings in the full range of employment law, such as:

  • Discrimination, harassment, and retaliation charges before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and state agencies, including both individual charges and systemic actions
  • Handling wage and hour, discrimination, and retaliation complaints before the North Carolina Department of Labor
  • Litigating claims arising under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII), the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA), the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), the North Carolina Retaliatory Employment Discrimination Act (REDA), and other federal statutes and state laws
  • Advising employers on all human resource issues, including hiring, incentivizing, evaluating, disciplining, and terminating employees; managing difficult leaves of absence; planning and executing reductions in force; navigating gender transitions; complying with disability accommodation, religious accommodation, and nursing mother obligations; and guiding employers through internal investigations
  • Drafting, negotiating, and enforcing severance agreements, non-solicitation agreements, and non-competition agreements
  • Conducting management/supervisory training on various EEO topics, including sexual harassment

Professional Activities and Speeches

Professional Activities:

  • American Bar Association
  • North Carolina Association of Municipal Attorneys
  • North Carolina Bar Association
  • Mecklenburg County Bar Association
  • Society for Human Resource Management
  • Defense Research Institute


  • Ogletree Deakins Workplace Strategies Seminar - ''Panel Discussion: Protests, Political Expression, and the Workplace'' - Phoenix - May 10, 2018
  • Ogletree Deakins Briefing - ''Protests, Political Expression, and the Workplace: What Employers Need to Know'' - Concord - October 24, 2017
  • Ogletree Deakins Managing a Workforce in 2017 - ''Headline News: Hot Topics in Employment Law'' - Atlanta - October 13, 2017
  • Workplace Strategies 2017 - ''Transgender Issues in the Workplace - Confronting New Challenges'' - San Diego - May 04, 2017
  • The Seminar Group - ''We Just Need to Pee: Supporting Transgender Employees in the Workplace'' - Atlanta - October 28, 2016
  • CEDIA (Custom Electronic Design & Installation Association) Business Xchange 2016 Workshops - ''Top Ten Employment Law Mistakes Small Businesses Make'' - San Diego - May 12, 2016
  • Workplace Strategies 2016 - ''I am Cait: Transgender Issues in the Spotlight in 2016'' - Chicago - May 05, 2016
  • Atlanta Bar - Labor & Employment Section (Panelist) - ''A New Frontier: Transgender Issues in the Workplace'' - Atlanta - March 18, 2016
  • Coalition of Women’s Initiatives in Law - ''Transitioning at Work: A Guide to Transgender Employees'' - Chicago - January 21, 2016
  • Ultimate Software's HR Workshop - ''The Modern Employer’s Guide to Transgender Employees'' - Charlotte - November 12, 2015
  • North Carolina State SHRM Conference - ''Transitioning At Work: The Modern Employer’s Guide to Gender Transitions'' - Charlotte / Concord - September 28, 2015
  • ACC-Charlotte Chapter - ''Interviewing, Hiring, Monitoring, and Separating Employees with Confidential Business Information: Tips for Employers'' - Concord - July 21, 2015
  • Workplace Strategies 2015 - ''Transitioning at Work: The Modern Employers' Guide to Transgender Employees'' - San Antonio - May 14, 2015
  • Research Triangle Area Chapter - ACC - ''EEOC Systematic and Complex Charges of Discrimination'' - Charlotte - February 04, 2015
  • Panelist - ''Federal Issues Impacting Employers, Including President Obama's Use of the Executive Order'' - Columbia - November 06, 2014
  • Ogletree Deakins Panelist - ''The Latest EEOC Enforcement Initiatives and Tactics - Defense Strategies from Outside and In-House Counsel Perspectives'' - Charlotte - October 07, 2014
  • North Carolina Society for Human Resource Management State Conference Master's Series - ''Creating a Flexible Work Environment'' - Greenville - September 17, 2014
  • Cabarrus Regional Society for Human Resources Management - ''Workplace Flexibility: Definitions, Trends & Next Steps'' - Concord - August 05, 2014
  • Workplace Strategies 2014 - ''Workplace Flexibility: Where We Are and Where We Are Headed'' - Las Vegas - May 08, 2014
  • International Public Management Association for Human Resources - ''Hot Topics in Public Sector Employment Law'' - Charlotte - April 16, 2014
  • Union County Human Resources Association - ''Top 10 Employer Mistakes'' - Charlotte - April 02, 2014
  • SHRM/FWI 2013 Workflex Conference - ''Employment Law Issues in the World of the Flexible Workplace'' - San Francisco - October 30, 2013
  • Ogletree Deakins Panelist - ''Creating an Effective and Flexible Work Environment'' - St. Louis - September 26, 2013
  • Association of Corporate Counsel, Charlotte Chapter - ''Creating an Effective and Flexible Work Environment'' - Charlotte - September 04, 2013
  • Ogletree Deakins Panelist - ''Creating an Effective and Flexible Work Environment'' - Cleveland - August 15, 2013
  • Workplace Strategies 2013 - ''Creating an Effective and Flexible Work Environment'' - New Orleans - May 09, 2013
  • The Employer's Association - ''Equal Employment Opportunity Compliance'' - Charlotte - February 14, 2013

Published Works


Our Insights


Media Quotes

November 02, 2018 - SHRM Online - "11 Compliance Tips for Working with Seasonal Employees During the Holidays"
May 17, 2018 - SHRM Online - "How Yearlong Paid Leave Works"