Tennessee News & Analysis

  • 6th Circuit confirms 'fair reading' standard for all overtime exemptions

    Ensuring correct employee classification for purposes of compliance with wage and hour laws is one of the most daunting challenges employers face. Classification criteria such as being engaged in "management" and use of discretion and independent judgment can be subjective, and it's often difficult to predict how a court would weigh in if an exempt classification is challenged. Take note of this recent decision from the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals (whose rulings apply to all Tennessee employers), which provides some helpful language to support exempt classifications.

  • SCOTUS concludes Title VII's EEOC charge filing requirement isn't jurisdictional

    Employers and employment counsel who defend federal discrimination claims know the drill. Employees seeking to make such claims can't just go directly to court—first they must file a discrimination charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which then must issue them a "right to sue." The U.S. Supreme Court (SCOTUS) recently concluded, however, that the requirement set forth in Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (the federal law that precludes discrimination based on race, sex, and other factors) that an employee must first exhaust her administrative remedies with the EEOC before filing suit isn't jurisdictional. Instead, employers may waive the rule.

  • All present and accounted for? If not, you may want to rethink your attendance policy

    Employee attendance problems are probably the most common reason for disciplinary action and discharge. Yet many employers pay surprisingly little attention to their attendance policies. I often see policies consisting of generic, vaguely worded language that looks like it has been cut and pasted without much thought to the content. That's too bad because careful messaging regarding your attendance expectations and requirements can really help curb attendance issues as well as give you solid grounds for discipline and termination if those expectations and requirements aren't met. This will put you in a better position to contest unemployment claims and defend wrongful termination claims. Having helped clients develop and tweak their attendance policies over the years, I have come up with a list of suggestions that hopefully will inspire you to give your own policy a once-over to see if it is doing the job for you.

  • Supreme Court will decide whether LGBT discrimination is unlawful

    The U.S. Supreme Court has agreed to decide the long-unresolved question of whether Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects employees from discrimination based on their sexual orientation or gender identity. The issue has been percolating in the lower courts for quite a while. As it frequently does, the Court declined to consider the question until there was a conflict between several appellate courts. Let's take a look at the history of the Court's decisions, the arguments on both sides of the issue, and what we can expect next.

  • September 30 deadline looms for newly required EEO-1 data

    Employers required to submit EEO-1 reports to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) are venturing into uncharted territory as they work to collect newly required information due by September 30. While they may be accustomed to submitting traditional EEO-1 information—data on employees' race/ethnicity and gender, or what's being called Component 1 data—this year they also must compile data on compensation and hours worked, or what's being called Component 2 data.

  • Middle Tennessee hospital pays for firing employee who refused flu shot

    In April 2019, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) entered into a settlement with Saint Thomas Health (the world's largest Catholic health system), requiring it to pay $75,000 to a worker fired for refusing a flu shot based on religious beliefs.

  • TN appeals court reinstates hostile work environment and whistleblower claims

    An individual may file a claim under Tennessee's "whistleblower statute"—the Tennessee Public Protection Act (TPPA)—if she was fired solely for reporting or refusing to participate in illegal activity. Similar to federal law, the Tennessee Human Rights Act (THRA) prevents companies from discriminating against employees based on race, sex, nationality, religion, and other protected classes. Creating a hostile work environment is one form of discrimination.

  • Tennessee bullying immunity law expanded to private employers

    Private employers in Tennessee will want to take note of a recent expansion of existing law, promising legal immunity for employers that adopt antibullying policies.

  • DOL proposes changes to joint employer rule

    On April 1, 2019, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) gave notice of a proposed update to the regulations defining when two or more legally separate business entities may be considered "joint employers" for determining liability under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA). In other words, the agency has proposed a rule to clarify when related businesses—such as franchisors and franchisees, staffing companies and their clients, and contractors and subcontractors—may be jointly liable for overtime and minimum wage violations. The revised regulations, if enacted, should bring much-needed clarity to the joint employment issue and should be a welcome development for employers.

  • DOL says FMLA leave mandatory for employees and employers

    After more than 25 years, you might think questions regarding proper interpretation of the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) would be settled. It's a highly regulated law, and it provides employers far more detail and clarity than they get with most other labor and employment laws.