Doing Business in Tennessee

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 …

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

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?