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Mary Leigh Pirtle helps employers navigate complicated and evolving employment law issues. She counsels clients on a wide range of day-to-day employment matters, and regularly conducts onsite internal investigations into allegations of employee misconduct. With experience in both traditional labor and employment litigation, Mary Leigh has represented employers against claims ranging from wage and hour violations to Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) violations.

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) announced a Final Rule increasing the salary threshold for Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) overtime exemptions, a move which the DOL anticipates will result in around four million additional workers becoming eligible for overtime pay. Continue Reading DOL Announces Final Overtime Rule Increasing Salary Threshold

The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) issued its Final Rule regarding the test for independent contractor classification.  The Final Rule, which becomes effective March 11, 2024, largely mirrors the DOL’s proposed rule announced in 2022 and sets forth a multi-factor “totality of the circumstances” economic realities framework for analyzing whether a worker is an employee or independent contractor under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA).Continue Reading DOL Issues Final Rule Regarding Independent Contractor Classification

Since March 20, 2020, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) and Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) have allowed employers flexibilities with remote workers to defer physical inspection of I-9 documents temporarily and instead electronically verify I-9 documents over a video link, fax or email. These flexibilities were available for employees who were working remotely due to COVID-19 precautions until they began working non-remotely “on a regular, consistent, or predictable basis, or the extension of the flexibilities related to such requirements is terminated, whichever is earlier.”Continue Reading Electronic I-9 Flexibility Provisions Expire on July 31, 2023; Physical Inspections Due on August 30, 2023

On July 12, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) updated its COVID-19 FAQs and as a result, revised certain earlier guidance regarding permissible COVID-19 testing, workplace screening, and return to work certifications. The EEOC explained that this revised guidance was due in part to the evolving circumstances of the pandemic but cautioned that these revisions were not intended to suggest that workplace safety policies related to COVID-19 were no longer warranted.
Continue Reading EEOC’s Updated Guidance on COVID-19 Testing in the Workplace

On July 15, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee entered a preliminary injunction barring the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Department of Education (ED) from enforcing guidance documents issued to interpret Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 (Title VII) and Title IX of the Education Amendments

Over the past two years, the pandemic has forced employers to navigate unchartered waters. The focus on health and safety, managing a remote workforce, and staying abreast of the evolving COVID-19-related guidance has left in-house counsel and human resources professionals with little time to focus on the fundamental steps that are essential to proactively and successfully manage employee issues. While the challenges associated with COVID-19 remain at the forefront of employers’ concerns, it is time to return to familiar waters and revisit some of the best HR-related practices. We are excited to offer the second installment of this three-part series both in-person and virtually, via webinar. For those local to the Nashville area, we invite you to join us on April 28 for the in-person presentation where we will address best practices across a range of topics, including:

  • Proper complaint intake and investigation planning practices.
  • Best practices for conducting employee interviews.
  • Managing the aftermath of the investigation, including potential disciplinary actions.

Continue Reading [REGISTER NOW] Labor & Employment Law Update: Returning to Familiar Waters – Best Practices for Conducting Effective Workplace Investigations

As employees are increasingly returning to the office, a new amendment to existing Tennessee law regarding vaccination further complicates the landscape for employers concerning COVID-19 vaccine mandates.  See the full text of the amendment here.

Chapter 2 of Title 14 of the Tennessee Code, passed in November 2021 by the Tennessee Legislature, prohibits a private business, governmental entity, school, or local education agency from compelling or otherwise taking “adverse action” against a person to compel proof of having received a COVID-19 vaccination if the person objects to being vaccinated “for any reason.”  See TCA 14-2-102(a).  In other words, a private business in Tennessee cannot take adverse action against a person based on their vaccination status.  As you may recall, Title 14 provided private businesses with an opportunity to request an exemption from this blanket restriction on their ability to require proof of vaccination by requesting the comptroller exclude the entity from the purview of this law.Continue Reading New Amendment to the Tennessee COVID-19 Bill Provides Medical and Religious Exemptions to Certain Tennessee Employees Subject to Mandatory Vaccination Policies

Over the past year, the Biden administration has issued a number of labor and employment executive orders applicable to government contractors. Some of those requirements are updates to Obama-era executive orders, while others are new. Together, these obligations, which include an almost 50% increase to the applicable minimum wage, can have a significant impact on contractors.

For any government contractors that have questions about these labor and employment changes, we hope you can join us for an overview of these recent developments.Continue Reading [WEBINAR] What Was Old is New Again – Government Contractor Labor & Employment Updates

The U.S. Supreme Court, in a 6-3 decision, has again stayed Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) attempt at enforcing its COVID-19 Vaccine and Testing Emergency Temporary Standard (ETS), which OSHA first published on November 5, 2021. This matter will now return to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit for further proceedings. But, for now, large employers across the nation are relieved of OSHA’s January 10 and February 9 compliance deadlines.
Continue Reading U.S. Supreme Court Halts OSHA’s COVID-19 Vaccine and Testing Emergency Temporary Standard