Doing Business in Tennessee

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 …

Jury dutyMost Tennessee employers are required to pay employees their “usual compensation” for jury duty.  But, what time is included in the phrase “jury duty” for the purpose of paying employees who serve?

That question was the subject of a recent Tennessee Attorney General opinion.  The Attorney General clarified that, under Tennessee law, jury duty includes the travel time to and from court to report for jury service, even if the employee’s “usual compensation” at his/her job does not include travel time.

Based on Tennessee law, a juror is entitled to an excused absence from work and, for certain employers (unless have less than five employees) to payment in the amount of their “usual compensation” for the time attributed to jury service (unless the employee has been employed for less than six months).  Attorney General Robert Cooper noted that the compensation provision of the law expressly states that the employer is not required to pay more than the employee’s time “spent serving and traveling to and from jury duty.” Tenn. Code Ann. § 22-4-106(b) (emphasis added).  Thus, in an opinion that is not surprising given this statutory language, commuting time to and from court is included in an employee’s jury duty pay.

Tennessee has a maternity/paternity leave law which permits both male and female full-time employees with 12 consecutive months of service to have four months of unpaid leave for adoption, pregnancy, childbirth and nursing a new infant. In order for an employee to be covered, the employer must have 100 or more employees on the job site or location at which the employee requesting leave is employed.

The employee must give three months’ advance notice except for medical emergency. With regard to adoption, the four-month leave period begins on the date that the employee receives custody of the child. Typically, the leave is job-protected. However, there is an exception if the employee is so “unique” that the employer, after reasonable efforts, cannot fill the position temporarily. Continue Reading What Do Tennessee’s Family And/Or Medical Leave Laws Require?

The Tennessee Human Rights Act (THRA) applies to employers with eight or more employees within the state and prohibits discrimination based on race, creed, color, religion, sex, age or national origin.  The interpretation and enforcement of the THRA follows closely that of Title VII and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA).

The Tennessee Human Rights Commission (THRC) investigates charges of discrimination brought under the THRA, although most charges of this nature are filed jointly with the EEOC and THRC.  Under a work-sharing agreement between the two agencies, most discrimination charges are investigated by the EEOC.  Because Tennessee is a “deferral state,” discrimination charges must be filed within 300 days of the alleged discriminatory act.  Continue Reading What are the Protected EEO/Non-Discrimination Categories in Tennessee?

Yes.  What laws apply to you as an employer often is dependent upon the number of employees you have.  In addition, how you count employees also matters.  (full-time only or do part-time count? What is employed for only part of a year?).

This article will provide a brief breakdown of some “head-count” numbers that are important in determining that information.  This is not intended as an all-inclusive list but provides some general guidance on when an employer may need to take a more detailed look to determine if certain laws apply.

Continue Reading Does it Matter How Many Employees I Have?