Jessica Youngs is the founding and principal attorney of the Firm and has more than 15 years of experience in the law. Jessica concentrates her practice on start-ups and SMBs in the technology, software/SaaS, product development, eCommerce, and staffing sectors. Her work as general counsel includes transactional (inc. gov’t contracts,) corporate, data protection, compliance, and labor and employment concerns. She is admitted to practice in the states of Illinois (’08), Georgia (’09), Washington, D.C. (’10), and New York (’20).
As example day for Jessica includes consulting with clients regarding their liability exposure and risk mitigation strategies; working with online retailers and marketers regarding privacy and advertising matters, such as GDPR/CCPA and FTC compliance; and negotiating software licensing terms with government agencies for her SaaS clients. Jessica also regularly consults with her clients regarding employment-related matters, such as employee classifications, employee/contractor agreements, and breaches of non-competes/non-disclosure agreements and is a frequent author and speaker on a wide variety of employment law matters.
Prior to joining founding the Firm, Jessica worked as an associate attorney at the Atlanta-based boutique firm of Hanks Brookes, LLC, where she practiced premises and products liability insurance defense, representing and managing multi-state litigation for a large Fortune 100 mass retailer. Jessica is a former clerk for the Honorable David G. Bernthal of the Central District of Illinois and the Illinois Press Association.
A native of Illinois, Jessica received her Bachelor of Arts degree from Eastern Illinois University in 2005, majoring in Journalism and minoring in Pre-Law. She graduated summa cum laude and earned the Journalism Department’s highest honors, becoming the first student in the Department to complete an undergraduate honors thesis. At Eastern Illinois, she was a desk editor for the daily student newspaper and was active on the Mock Trial Team. Following her undergraduate studies, Jessica attended the University of Illinois College of Law on its highest merit scholarship, graduating cum laude in 2008.
While in law school, Jessica was an associate editor of the Elder Law Review and received honors in advocacy, legal research, and writing as well as a notation for her pro bono service. She served as president of the University of Illinois College of Law’s Student Division of the Illinois State Bar Association and was the first student member elected to the Bar Association Assembly for the College of Law, enjoying full assembly voting rights and privileges.
Hobbies & Interests:
When not working, Jessica enjoys adventure travel and has recently gone SCUBA diving in Belize’s Blue Hole at a depth of 43 m (137.80 ft), spent a week on a remote Caribbean island spear gunning lion fish for marine conservation, hiked the Annapurna Circuit in Nepal and crossed the world’s highest mountain pass, Thorang-La, at 5,416 m (17,769 ft), dove in the Red Sea with hammerheads, whale sharks, and oceanic white tips, and, most recently, road a motorbike across the Tibetan Plateau and Inner Mongolia with her father.
Jessica is fluent in French (C2) and is conversational in Dutch (B2), German (B1), and Turkish (B1).
Jessica is licensed in the following jurisdictions:
Selected Publications & Speaking Engagements (Labor & Employment):
- Merlet, Jessica. “The Respectful Workplace.” Live Webinar. 10 Oct 2019.
- Merlet, Jessica. “Mental Health in the Workplace: Lawfully Navigating Sensitive Employee Issues With Compassion.” Live Webinar. 26 Feb 2019.
- Merlet, Jessica. “Accommodating Hidden Disabilities in the Workplace.” Live Webinar. 28 April 2018.
- Merlet, Jessica. “Workplace Harassment: How to Protect Your Company During the #MeToo Firestorm.” Live Webinar. 24 January 2018.
- Merlet, Jessica. “Mental Health in the Workplace: Lawfully Navigating Sensitive Employee Issues With Compassion.” Live Webinar. 3 May 2017.
- Merlet, Jessica. “Gender Identity and Sexual Orientation Issues in the Workplace: Employer Considerations.” Live Webinar. 11 May 2016.
- Merlet, Jessica. “Workplace Civility and Bystander Intervention: Essentials of Harassment Training.” Live Webinar. 9 November 2016.
- Merlet, Jessica. (2020). “Workplace Mental Health During the COVID-19 Pandemic.” Personnel Concepts’ Employer Legal Brief. 1-6.
- Merlet, Jessica. (2018). “Responding to and Navigating Workplace Harassment Claims.” Personnel Concepts’ Employer Legal Brief. 1-4.
- Merlet, Jessica. (2018). “Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in the Workplace: Recent Developments.” Personnel Concepts’ Employer Legal Brief. 1-4.
- Merlet, Jessica. (2018). “Sexual Orientation and Gender Identity in the Workplace: Recent Developments.” Personnel Concepts’ Compliance Guide. 2nd ed. 3-14.
Selected Publications & Speaking Engagements (Data Protection & Cyber Security):
- Merlet, Jessica. “Data Protection Law in the United States.” Live Webinar. 11 Aug. 2020.
- Merlet, Jessica. (2020). “Website Accessibility and ADA Title III Compliance.” Personnel Concepts’ Website Privacy and Accessibility Laws Compliance Guide.
GDPR Data Protection Officer
We are proud to have been certified by the European Centre on Privacy and Cybersecurity as a GDPR Data Protection Officer.
- Merlet, Jessica. (2018). “Responding to and Navigating Workplace Harassment Claims.” Personnel Concepts’ Harassment Investigation Procedures Compliance Guidebook. 6-12.
- Merlet, Jessica. (2017). “Harassment Claims and Resulting Retaliation.” Personnel Concepts’ Wrongful Termination Prevention Guide. 4th Ed. 9-15.
- Merlet, Jessica. (2017). “Mental Health in the Workplace.” Personnel Concepts’ Employer Legal Brief. 1-4.
- Merlet, Jessica. (2015). “Legal Brief: Social Media in the Workplace: Tips, Warnings, and Guidelines for Employers.” Personnel Concepts’ Social Media in the Workplace, 9-16.
- Merlet, Jessica. (2014). “Attorney Legal Brief: The Fair Labor Standards Act and Common Wage and Hour Violations By the Service Industry.” Personnel Concepts’ Restaurant Industry Wage & Hour Compliance Guide, 4-11.
- Merlet, Jessica. (2014). “Employer Legal Brief: Common Legal Issues Relating to Job Interviews and Pre-Employment Inquiries.” Personnel Concepts’ Interviewing and Hiring Guide For Small Businesses, 45-52.
- Merlet, Jessica. (2013). “Legal Brief: The Illinois Workplace Violence Prevention Act and Its Impact on Employers.” Personnel Concepts’ 2014 Illinois Employer Update, 6-13,
- Quoted In “What are the Legal Requirements for Websites?” (2020 July 14). Spectrum Group Online, https://online-sales-marketing.com/legal-requirements-for-websites/.
- Merlet, Jessica. (Guest). “Data Privacy, GDPR, and You.” (2019 Feb. 20). SuperDataScience [Audio Podcast], https://www.superdatascience.com/podcast/data-privacy-gdpr-and-you.
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