Doing Business in Tennessee

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

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

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

Can an employer be held liable for sexual misconduct at a private party that takes place after an employer-sponsored holiday party?  A recent Tennessee Court of Appeals case appears to say “yes” and thereby presents a new concern for employers considering employer-sponsored events.

In Phelps v. State, an employee sued her employer, the State of Tennessee, for sexual harassment and retaliation claims under the Tennessee Human Rights Act (THRA).  The instances of alleged sexual harassment included serious sexual misconduct (including a sexual assault) at an after-party following a State-sponsored Halloween party.  The court ruled that the State could be liable for these “after-party” events, even though they took place after hours and away from the place of employment.

Background


Continue Reading Halloween Party Turns Scary for State in New Court Decision: Appellate Court Says Employer May Be Held Liable for Off-Duty, Off-Premises Sexual Harassment Claims

On October 1, Tennessee will join a growing list of states providing additional protections to pregnant employees as the Tennessee Pregnant Workers Fairness Act (Act) takes effect. Covered employers include those with 15 or more employees. Under the Act, it is unlawful for an employer to refuse to make reasonable accommodations for medical needs arising from pregnancy, childbirth or other related medical conditions unless doing so would impose an undue hardship on the employer. This includes requiring employees to take leave under a leave law or employer policy if another reasonable accommodation can be provided. The Act also prevents an employer from taking any other adverse actions against an employee in the terms, conditions, or privileges of an employee’s employment if the individual requests or uses a reasonable accommodation due to pregnancy, childbirth, or related medical conditions, such as counting pregnancy-related absences under a no fault attendance policy.

Continue Reading Tennessee Pregnant Workers Fairness Act

On Sunday, March 22, Nashville Mayor John Cooper announced the “Safer at Home Order,” issued by the Medical Director pursuant to the Metro Public Health Department’s declaration of a Health Emergency. This order closes non-essential businesses and encourages residents throughout Davidson County (Tennessee) to stay home when possible and avoid gathering in groups of more than 10 people for non-essential purposes. The Order does not restrict or limit any employer’s right to ask employees to work from home.

Until further notice, all businesses not performing essential services have been ordered closed for 14 days beginning at 12:01 a.m. Monday, March 23.


Continue Reading Nashville Mayor John Cooper Announces Safer at Home Order

Bass, Berry & Sims attorneys Bob Horton and Kimberly Veirs contributed an article for Practical Law on Tennessee laws related to the mutual agreements to arbitrate employment-related disputes. The article outlines key differences between federal and Tennessee arbitration law and cites several cases interpreting these statutes. Bob and Kimberly also provided sample language for a Tennessee-specific agreement to arbitrate employment-related claims that can be used by employers with employees in Tennessee.

Continue Reading Mutual Agreement to Arbitrate Employment-Related Disputes (TN)

Bass, Berry & Sims attorneys Bob Horton and Kimberly Veirs contributed an article for Practical Law on Tennessee laws related to the mandatory arbitration of employment-related claims. The article outlines key differences between federal and Tennessee arbitration law and provides guidance on issues associated with unconscionability, severability, waiver of class and representative actions, arbitrability, drafting considerations, EEOC challenges, and bracketed text. As part of the article, the authors provided sample language for a Tennessee compliant mandatory arbitration provision of employment-related claims that can be incorporated into a written employment agreement or employee handbook.

Continue Reading Mandatory Arbitration of Employment-Related Claims (TN)

Bass, Berry & Sims attorney Tim Garrett authored an article for Workforce magazine outlining how the workplace can be considered the unintended battleground for cultural wars. In the article, Tim identifies the causes of this reality and the tension it creates; highlights certain “false” solutions; and provides a more effective, practical solution for working toward a coherent, team-oriented, positive work environment.

Continue Reading Arming for the Workplace Cultural Dynamics

A Cautionary Reminder for Employers

A Texas Federal Court recently ruled that terminating an employee because she wanted to pump breast milk at work is not sex discrimination.  The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission sued on behalf of an individual employee who had mentioned her need to pump breast milk at work and soon thereafter was fired for job abandonment.  The employer claimed that the employee had not kept the employer informed during her leave or about her desire to return to work.  The employer explained that its decision to terminate the employee for job abandonment already had been made before the employee’s request.

The Washington Post reported on this ruling last week.
Continue Reading Texas Court Rules Against EEOC – “Lactation Discrimination” Is Not Unlawful Sex Discrimination But …