I enjoyed attending the recent 2021 Tennessee Society for Human Resource Management (TN SHRM) Conference & Expo last month and was thrilled to host a session titled “FMLA Cases Presenting Cutting Edge Legal Issues: Are You Prepared to Defend Your Organization from Challenge to Your FMLA Administration?”

Following my session, I had the opportunity to sit down with Cynthia Thompson, editor and publisher of HR Professionals Magazine to further discuss key issues that employers should know about FMLA challenges.

As almost every employer knows, managing leaves of absence can be a challenge.  But, I find that it is helpful to remember the purpose being served by the leave being considered.  It also is helpful to distinguish the leave for which an employee qualifies and the benefits for which an employee may qualify while our on an authorized leave.

Watch the video for our full conversation, and subscribe to this blog for the latest updates on FMLA and other labor & employment and employee benefits laws affecting employers.

President Biden has announced a series of measures aimed at combatting the COVID-19 pandemic which will require certain employers to set forth mandatory vaccination requirements. These measures direct the Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) and the Safer Federal Workforce Task Force (Task Force) to set forth specific guidance, which we are still awaiting.  However, here is what we know now:

OSHA Emergency Temporary Standard

According to President Biden’s September 9, 2021 briefing, OSHA has been tasked with developing an Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS) requiring companies with 100 or more employees to require employees be vaccinated against COVID-19 or be tested on a weekly basis. The ETS will also require these companies to provide paid time off for the time it takes workers to get vaccinated or to recover if they are under the weather post-vaccination. The fines for violating this rule are reported to be $14,000 per violation.

Continue Reading President Biden Announces Mandatory Vaccination Requirements for Certain Employers

Join us for a virtual seminar in which the firm’s labor & employment and employee benefits attorneys will discuss recent COVID-19-related announcements from the CDC, FDA and other relevant agencies, and the implications they have on how employers should structure policies and procedures moving forward.

In this session, we will provide guidance for navigating the ever-challenging issues facing employers, including:

  • Mandatory Vaccinations.
  • Mask Policies.
  • Incentive Programs.
  • Accommodation and Exemption Requests.

WEBINAR DETAILS

Title: Labor & Employment Law Update: Continued COVID-19-Related Developments and Policy Guidance for Employers

Date: Wednesday, September 29, 2021 Time: 10:00 a.m. – 11:00 a.m. CT

Who Should Attend

  • In-house legal counsel.
  • Human resources professionals.
  • C-level executives, consultants and principals in companies that are working to bring employees back to the workplace..

This program is pending approval for HRCI and Tennessee CLE credit (1 hour)

Tennessee recently enacted a minimal expansion of its medical marijuana law.  The law took effect May 27, 2021, and it slightly enlarges the medical conditions for which persons may possess a very limited amount of tetrahydrocannabinol (THC).  Previously, Tennessee law allowed only those diagnosed with intractable seizures or epilepsy to possess a limited amount of medical cannabis oil.  The law also creates a commission to study the possibility of future medical marijuana legalization.

The new measure allows individuals who have the following medical conditions to possess CBD oil containing less than 0.9% of THC:

  • Alzheimer’s disease.
  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS).
  • Cancer, when such disease is diagnosed as end-stage or the treatment produces related wasting illness, nausea and vomiting, or pain.
  • Inflammatory bowel disease, including Crohn’s disease and ulcerative colitis.
  • Epilepsy or seizures.
  • Multiple sclerosis.
  • Parkinson’s disease.
  • Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) or acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS).
  • Sickle cell disease.

Continue Reading Tennessee Expands (Minimally) Medical Marijuana Law and Establishes Cannabis Commission

The first few years of operations can be an overwhelming task for emerging companies, especially when it comes to navigating the wide range of employment laws that come with hiring new members of the team. Below is a list of issues to be aware of as you build and structure your workforce. Continue reading to learn some best practices for circumventing legal risks related to:

  • Hiring.
  • Employee classification.
  • Wages.
  • Employment contracts.
  • Employment policies.

Continue reading on bassberry.com

Effective July 1, 2021, Tennessee’s Constitution Carry law allows individuals over the age of 21 (or military members between ages 18 to 20) to carry a firearm, both concealed and open, with or without a carry permit.  However, this new law does not impact a private Tennessee business’ right to prohibit the possession of weapons on its property, including possession by employees; provided, the business displays the required notice outlined in T.C.A. Section 39-17-1359 and permits individuals to store the firearm within his or her vehicle under Tennessee’s Guns in Trunks law (T.C.A. Section 39-17-1313).

As a refresher, Tennessee’s Guns in Trunks law allows individuals to transport and store a firearm or firearm ammunition in the person’s motor vehicle while on or utilizing any public or private parking area if the following is true:

  • The person’s motor vehicle is parked in a location where the motor vehicle is permitted to be.
  • The firearm or ammunition being transported or stored in the motor vehicle is kept from ordinary observation if the person is in the vehicle, or if the person is not in the vehicle, is kept from ordinary observation and locked within the trunk, glove box, or interior of the person’s vehicle or a container securely affixed to the vehicle.

If you have any questions about this topic, please contact the author.

Please note that this blog post was updated on July 16, 2021 with information about the bill being deferred.

Update: New Bathroom Requirement for Tennessee Businesses Deferred

The United States District Court for the Middle District of Tennessee has temporarily enjoined the recently enacted legislation requiring all Tennessee public and private businesses to post a notice to the extent it has a formal or informal policy allowing a member of either biological sex to use any public restroom within the facility.

This preliminary injunction was issued on July 9, 2021 as the result of a lawsuit filed by the American Civil Liberties Union Foundation of Tennessee on June 25, 2021 requesting both preliminary and permanent injunctive relief against enforcement of the law on the grounds that it violates the First Amendment of the United States Constitution.

For now, and until further proceedings in this matter, the notice posting law that was previously effective July 1, 2021 will not apply to employers in Tennessee.

Continue Reading New Bathroom Requirement for Tennessee Businesses Effective July 1, 2021

To increase protections for the estimated $9.3 trillion in American retirement assets, the Department of Labor (DOL) has begun a new cybersecurity audit initiative for retirement plans. After providing its first set of guidance on cybersecurity in April, the DOL quickly began the audit initiative by issuing information and document requests to numerous 401(k) plan fiduciaries. The DOL has stated that ERISA requires plan fiduciaries to take appropriate precautions to mitigate the risks of cybercrime and this new audit activity clearly indicates that companies must take steps to align their cybersecurity programs with the guidance provided or risk being caught flatfooted by a probing and comprehensive audit.

The DOL’s cybersecurity guidance is aimed at plan sponsors, plan fiduciaries, record-keepers, and plan participants. It provides advice on how to best protect the retirement benefits of America’s workers through cybersecurity safeguards. The DOL’s guidance is broken down into the following three documents:

  1. Tips for Hiring a Service Provider
  2. Cybersecurity Program Best Practices
  3. Online Security Tips

Continue Reading DOL Begins Audit of Retirement Plans for Cybersecurity Shortfalls

In response to President Biden’s Executive Order issued on January 21, 2021, directing the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) to take action to reduce the risk that workers may contract COVID-19 in the workplace, OSHA has issued an emergency temporary standard (ETS) to set forth guidelines to protect healthcare workers.

Effective June 21, 2021, the ETS applies only to settings where any employee provides healthcare services or healthcare support services.  The masking, distancing, and barrier requirements under the ETS do not apply to settings with well-defined areas where all employees are fully vaccinated and there is no reasonable expectation that any person with suspected or confirmed COVID-19 will be present. OSHA has provided a flowchart to determine which workplaces are affected.

Develop and implement a COVID-19 plan:  Employers are required to develop and implement a plan to combat COVID-19.  This plan must be in writing if there are more than 10 employees.  Employers must conduct hazard assessments for each specific workplace to identify potential COVID-19 hazards and designate a safety coordinator with the authority to ensure compliance with all aspects of the plan.

Limit and monitor points of entry:  In workplaces where direct patient care is provided, employers must limit and monitor points of entry.  Patients, clients, residents, and other visitors must also be screened and triaged.  Other patient management strategies must be implemented per CDC guidance.

Continue Reading OSHA Issues Emergency Temporary Standard to Protect Healthcare Workers from COVID-19

I recently authored an article for the Nashville Business Journal discussing strategies to overcome risks for employers opting to continue to operate with a remote or hybrid workforce.

Telework introduces an increased risk of noncompliance with the Fair Labor Standards Act’s requirement that all non-exempt employees be paid for all hours worked, including any overtime hours, which is more difficult to monitor with dispersed employees. “Employers with remote workforces should clearly outline a timekeeping policy regarding the accurate recording of all time worked, and train employees on those expectations, including a requirement that remote workers obtain advance approval from their supervisor before working any overtime,” I stated in the article.

Another threat to monitor includes increased risk of network privacy and security loss. Employers should update security protocols, including employee training on remote access security and password protection to prevent unauthorized access to sensitive information. Investment in company-issued equipment with preferred antivirus software is also a crucial protective measure. Continue Reading Strategies for Employers Operating with a Hybrid Workforce