Tag Archives: attorney

Elements of an Effective Book Club Selection

Synthia Shilling, an attorney and former legal advisor to the United States Department of Agriculture, studied English education at the University of Maryland and later earned a master’s degree in English rhetoric at the University of Maryland College Park. When she is not working, Synthia Shilling enjoys reading with her book club.

There are a number of qualities that make a novel an effective book club selection. A book club selection should, above all else, promote discussion among a wide variety of readers. Books that feature characters that make one or more life-altering decisions are often successful in this regard, as many readers will have different perspectives on the characters’ choices. Novels that conclude ambiguously or without resolution can also serve as effective conversation subjects, as readers will be forced to speculate on the significance of the ending or on how the plot might continue to unfold.

Participants can also derive discussion from unique aesthetic or structural approaches taken by an author. Stories with unreliable narrators, for example, force readers to question every bit of information they are given. Holden Caulfield is perhaps the most discussed unreliable narrator in American literature. His overly cynical outlook on the adult world, coupled with the fact that he relays his story from a mental institution, places all of the novel’s scenes into question as careful readers try to determine the truth of his narrative.


Union Organization in Charter Schools

Over the course of her career, attorney Synthia Shilling has provided counsel to two Maryland school districts. Synthia Shilling draws on an in-depth knowledge of labor and employment law as it applies to both the public and private sectors.

The classification of a charter school as public or private sector has a number of implications in terms of union organization. Public school employees fall under the jurisdiction of state labor boards while private-sector workers turn to the National Labor Relations Act for unionization legislation. Many charter school teachers and support personnel are employees of a management company, which automatically makes them private-sector workers. However, employees hired by the school may be classified as public or private sector, depending a number of factors.

One can find an example of this classification in the National Labor Relations Board’s 2012 decision on Chicago Math and Science Academy. The Board deemed the academy to be a private entity, as its formation made it a private nonprofit corporation. The academy is thus susceptible to unionization laws that govern the private sector. Therefore, the school is prohibited from organizing under the State Labor Relations Act and must do so in accordance with private-sector regulations. The board did qualify that this ruling does not apply to all charter schools nationwide and invites other schools to apply individually for classification.

The Equal Employment Opportunity Program in Maryland

Previously an attorney with Prince George’s County, Maryland, Synthia Shilling joined the U.S. Department of Agriculture as legal counsel in 2013. Synthia Shilling focuses on employment law and possesses a wealth of knowledge regarding Maryland’s equal employment opportunity program.

The equal employment opportunity program in the state of Maryland prohibits employment discrimination of individuals based on race, gender, marital status, sexual orientation, religion, and age. In addition, it protects individuals with physical or mental disabilities. The regulation applies to people who are current employees of a business as well as applicants seeking employment with a company. As such, the law ensures all individuals are given a fair opportunity to gain and fulfill employment based on merit and fitness.

Individuals who know or feel an employer has acted out of accordance of the equal employment opportunity laws must file a complaint within 30 days of the violation. Upon receiving the complaint, an equal employment officer will conduct an investigation under the direction of a fair practices officer. Based on the findings, the head of the principal unit will provide a written decision with the appropriate relief, if any.

For more information about Maryland equal employment opportunity laws, visit www.dbm.maryland.gov.