Tennessee News & Analysis

  • When and how you can require notice of FFCRA paid leave during pandemic

    As COVID-19 continues to affect the workplace, the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) is trying to provide guidance on how employers should implement the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). You may be wondering if, when, and how you can require employees to provide notice and documentation when they're taking paid leave under the FFCRA. Thanks to a recent revision to the DOL's "final rule" on paid leave under the Act, the answer has been clarified.

  • Healthcare providers wrestling with virus-spawned religious bias claims

    During the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services' Office for Civil Rights (OCR) has dealt with a wide variety of discrimination claims against healthcare providers. The OCR recently announced the resolution of two major complaints, which should serve as a reminder to pay close attention to actions that could be discriminatory.

  • DOL proposed rule shields employers from costly misclassification claims

    The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) recently unveiled a proposed rule for classifying workers as either independent contractors or employees. The effort is important because the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) covers employees but not independent contractors. Therefore, contractors aren't entitled to minimum wage or overtime pay. The issue has gained momentum because of the rising prevalence of Uber, Lyft, Instacart, and other companies that rely on independent contractors. Their workers have filed a wave of lawsuits claiming they were shorted pay or entitled to more benefits because they were performing work as employees. The new rule is an effort by President Donald Trump's administration to clarify the circumstances when a company will be designated as an "employer" for a particular individual for federal wage and hour law purposes.

  • NCDOL warns about poster scams

    The North Carolina Department of Labor (NCDOL) is advising employers to be on the lookout for companies trying to sell employment law posters by claiming the employer faces severe fines if it doesn't make a purchase. The bottom line, according to the NCDOL, is that it offers labor law posters free of charge so you shouldn't be fooled by the false representations.

  • 4th Circuit clarifies when REDA protects internal complaints

    The North Carolina Retaliatory Employment Discrimination Act (REDA) prohibits retaliation against employees who exercise rights (i.e., engage in "protected activity") under certain laws. After a former employee claimed his employer violated REDA by firing him for complaining internally about safety issues, the 4th Circuit (which covers North Carolina, South Carolina, and West Virginia employers) found he had engaged in protected activity and provided several principles for courts and employers to consider when faced with internal employee complaints.

  • Assessing reasonable accommodations for pregnant employees

    Federal law makes it illegal to discriminate against pregnant employees and requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for a worker's known limitations related to pregnancy or childbirth under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 (PDA). Over the past few years, nearly all states also have enacted state-level protections, most patterned after the model Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (PWFA). (The lone exception, North Carolina, has extended some protections to public employees through Executive Order.) Let's take a look at what the PDA and the PWFA (using West Virginia's version as an example, though the others are similar) mean for you when dealing with pregnant employees.

  • EEOC settles NC race discrimination case

    In contrast with other litigation, a case filed against an employer by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is a very public affair. Typically, the EEOC will issue a press release when it files a new lawsuit identifying the employer and providing a summary of the alleged discriminatory conduct. If a settlement is reached, there are no confidentiality agreements as there are in other cases. Rather, the settlement is documented in court documents in the form of a consent decree, which is available to the public. The agency also will issue another press release detailing the monetary relief and other terms of the settlement. Here is the latest North Carolina example.

  • Year's end means key COVID-19 relief measures expiring

    Employers and their employees have had to navigate a number of COVID-19-related relief measures for most of 2020—paid sick and family leave time, enhanced unemployment benefits, Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) loan requirements, and optional temporary deferrals of certain taxes among them. What next year will bring is up in the air, but some measures are ending on December 31. Here's a look at some of the more notable provisions important to employers.

  • Cutting-Edge HR

    Employers urged to redesign recruiting strategies. Research from workforce advisory and research firm Gartner Inc. urges employers to rethink how they acquire talent. In a September report, Gartner said just 16% of new hires possess the needed skills for both their current role and the future. Therefore, organizations need to shift their focus from replacing the workforce to shaping it through strategies based on the realities of the new recruiting landscape. Shaping the workforce means acquiring new skillsets from a diverse skills market that influences an organizations employment value propositions. Historically, recruiting has focused on acquiring quality talent with critical skills to meet an organizations short- and long-term objectives, but the old methods are unable to compete with the large-scale shifts to the workplace. Therefore, Gartner says recruiting functions need to make three shifts: (1) define talent needs by prioritizing skills instead of hiring profiles, (2) uncover the total skills market instead of targeting known talent pools, and (3) create responsive employment value propositions, not just responsive candidates.

  • Federal Watch

    DOL program trains Americans for typical H-1B jobs. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) is investing $150 million in grants to invest in training for middle- to high-skilled H-1B occupations within key sectors of the U.S. economy, including information technology and cyber security, advanced manufacturing, and transportation. The goal is to train Americans for positions often held by foreign workers with H-1B visas. The announcement, released in September, said that public-private partnerships will use grant money to train individuals in their communities with skills necessary to advance career pathways to employment in H-1B occupations within key industry sectors. Eligible participants must be at least 17 years old and not currently enrolled in secondary school within a local educational agency. Those of interest include unemployed and underemployed individuals seeking full-time employment and incumbent workers needing to update their skills to retain employment.