Kelly S. Hughes

Shareholder Charlotte

Kelly Hughes has spent her career advising and supporting employers across multiple industries and in various forums. Ms. Hughes assists executives and management at all levels in crafting employment policies and agreements that not only comply with federal, state, and local laws but also complement the unique needs of the particular client and promote its financial and business objectives.

Ms. Hughes 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 recently published book Workflex: The Essential Guide to Effective and Flexible Workplaces and travels around the country delivering presentations on this cutting-edge topic.

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

  • Discrimination and retaliation charges before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and state agencies, including both individual discrimination charges and threatened systemic actions
  • Handling wage and hour, discrimination, and retaliation complaints before the North Carolina Department of Labor
  • Litigating claims arising under Title VII, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the North Carolina Retaliatory Employment Discrimination Act, and other federal statutes and state laws
  • Representing employers, fiduciaries, insurers, and third-party administrators in employee welfare benefit plan litigation in federal and state courts
  • 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 training, including EEO and anti-harassment/anti-discrimination training

Within Ogletree, Ms. Hughes is the co-chair of the Retail Practice Group, a member of the EEOC Litigation Practice Group and the Hospitality Industry Group, the co-chair of the Flexibility/Awareness Subcommittee of Ogletree Deakins Women’s Initiative (ODWIN), a reduced hours advisor, and an ambassador to the Professional Development Committee.

Professional Activities and Speeches

Professional Activities:

  • American Bar Association
  • Charlotte Women's Bar
  • North Carolina Bar Association
  • Mecklenburg County Bar Association
  • Society for Human Resource Management
  • Defense Research Institute


  • Ogletree Deakins Workplace Strategies Seminar - ''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
  • 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
  • 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
  • The Employer's Association - ''Equal Employment Opportunity Compliance'' - Charlotte - February 14, 2013

Published Works


Our Insights


Media Quotes

June 19, 2017 - SHRM Online - "5 Tips for Terminating Remote Workers"
May/June 2017 - Retail Leader - "Workplace Improvements: Retailers Give An Inch To Get A Lot In Return From Happier Workers"
December 12, 2016 - Bloomberg BNA - "Wrapping up holiday employment law issues with a bow"