Employee Handbooks and Policies

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)

In Syed v. M-I, LLC, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit recently held that combining a liability waiver and a Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) disclosure in an employment application constitutes a willful violation of the FCRA. The employee claimed that his employer obtained his credit report unlawfully because the disclosure form he signed did not consist “solely of the disclosure” as required by the FCRA. The Ninth Circuit’s decision reversed the judgment of a California district court, which had dismissed the lawsuit because the complaint failed to allege that the employer’s understanding of its obligation under the FCRA was unreasonable.

Continue Reading In Bizarre Procedural Posture, Ninth Circuit Finds FCRA Willful Violation

In an online article published by Quick-Service Restaurant (QSR) magazine, Bass, Berry & Sims attorney Tim Garrett discussed options that employers have in the wake of the injunction placed on the Department of Labor’s (DOL) overtime rule and the subsequent appeal filed by the DOL. The timing of the rule has put many employers in a tough spot, with many having prepared for a December 1, 2016, effective date, only to have an injunction placed on the rule on November 22. Employers now face the decision of whether to undo implemented changes with the hope that the rule will not go into effect in the next few months, or to keep changes in place. “It’s been our consistent advice that those who have already announced and implemented changes either in salaries or in classifications, should probably stick with those and not attempt to undo them, which would likely be more disruptive,” said Tim. “The savvy employers know that this is not just a budget issues, but a morale issue.”

The full article, “What is the Future of the Overtime Rule?” was published on January 6, 2017, by QSR magazine and is available online.

In an article published by The Corporate Counselor, published by ALM’s Law Journal Newsletters, Tim Garrett discussed the latest developments and next steps surrounding the Department of Labor’s (DOL) overtime rule. The November 22, 2016, injunction of the rule and subsequent appeal by the DOL have created uncertainty for employers, with some having prepared for the rule to go into effect in December 2016 only to have the rule challenged and stalled. President-elect Trump’s appointment of Andrew Puzder as labor secretary, a known advocate of deregulation, has caused speculation that the salary level rule will be changed before implementation. “The ruling does provide the new administration with an opportunity to stop, or modify, the new salary level,” Tim said. “The legal landscape has provided significant opportunity for change through the political landscape.”

The full article, “Injunction of the DOL’s Overtime Rule and its Appeal,” was published in the January 2017 issue of The Corporate Counselor and is available online or the PDF below.

Download Document – The Corporate Counselor (January 2017)

Bass, Berry & Sims attorney Tim Garrett provided insight on the impact that hospitals may encounter as a result of the Department of Labor’s (DOL) new overtime pay rule, set to take effect December 1, 2016. The new rule will more than double the salary level for those employees classified as exempt from overtime pay from the current level of $23,660 to the new level of $47,476, or $913 per week. As Tim points out, “[a] major challenge for hospitals will be cost containment.” The new rule could make it difficult for hospitals to anticipate the new labor costs.

The full article, “New Overtime Rules Could Upend Pay Structures,” was published by Hospitals & Health Networks on October 25, 2016, and is available online.

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

The Ninth Circuit recently held in Morris v. Ernst & Young, LLP that employees have a substantive right to pursue work-related claims collectively, and employers may not force employees to waive this right as a condition of employment.  As a result, class action waivers in arbitration agreements signed as a condition of employment are no longer enforceable in California.

Like many employers throughout the country, Ernst & Young required that all its employees sign arbitration agreements as a condition of employment, and each agreement required that the employees promise not to join with other employees in bringing legal claims against the company.  Specifically, the agreements required that the employees pursue legal claims (1) exclusively through arbitration, and (2) only as individuals and in “separate proceedings.”  As a result, employees could not initiate concerted legal claims against the company in any forum, whether court, arbitration proceedings or elsewhere.

Continue Reading Class Action Waivers in Arbitration Agreements Signed as a Condition of Employment No Longer Enforceable in California

Recent developments show that employers face both incentives and threats from the Obama Administration designed to ensure that employees know of their right to engage in “whistleblowing” (i.e., sharing possible unlawful activity with government agencies). Two recent examples are the federal Defend Trade Secrets Act (DTSA) and recent enforcement actions by the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC).

Continue Reading Increasing Pressure Toward Employer Transparency