Employee Handbooks and Policies

I recently provided insight for an article outlining how companies should discuss retirement plans with their older employees. I explained that an annual review period would be an appropriate time to discuss an employee’s upcoming plans for retirement and any need for success planning.

“Employers should pose questions to employees about retirement plans with the sole goal of understanding staffing needs for future workforce planning,” I explained. “This discussion should be general in nature, should not make reference to the employee’s age or ‘generational’ comments, and should promptly end if the employee indicates that retirement is not a consideration at that point.”


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In an article published by the Nashville Business Journal, Bass, Berry & Sims attorney Doug Dahl discussed student loan repayment benefits offered by employers and the IRS’s ruling last year regarding this issue.Student loan debt in the United States is escalating, and employers are finding it harder to fill open positions. In an effort to tackle both of these issues, more employers have been offering student loan repayment opportunities as part of the benefits packages they offer employees. In an article published by the Nashville Business Journal, I discussed student loan repayment benefits offered by employers and the IRS’s ruling last year regarding this issue.

For example, employers can offer student loan debt management programs that offer counseling services and access to student loan marketplaces or more favorable finance terms. In May 2018, the IRS issued a ruling allowing an employer to make contributions to its 401(k) plan on behalf of employees who make payments toward their student loan.


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More and more companies are implementing socially conscious workplace policies and are free to do so, as long as no discrimination occurs.More and more companies are implementing socially conscious policies on topics ranging from banning the use of plastic-ware to refusing to reimburse employees for meals that include meat or are otherwise non-vegan. Companies are generally free to implement these types of policies, as long as employees are not unlawfully discriminated against as part of the policy. I recently examined the legality of company implementation of socially conscious policies in the workplace in an article published Workplace Magazine.

“Title VII of the Civil Rights Act protects employees from discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex and national origin, and the American with Disabilities Act protects employees with disabilities; the Age Discrimination in Employment Act prohibits age discrimination. But there is no employment law protecting an employee’s right to use plastic,” I explained.


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Join us in Nashville on January 29 for a complimentary seminar reviewing 2018 employment law developments and looking forward to issues likely to be further addressed in 2019.

7:30 a.m. – 8:00 a.m. Registration and Breakfast 
8:00 a.m. – 10:30 a.m. Program

This event will be held at our Nashville Bass, Berry & Sims office.

Topics will include:
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Bass, Berry & Sims invites you to a complimentary seminar focusing on trending areas of labor & employment law.

Topics will include:

  • FMLA/ADA Considerations for Leaves of Absence: A practical, scenario-based discussion regarding extended leaves of absence and how they are regulated by application of the FMLA and the ADA, including a detailed discussion of the EEOC’s position with respect to extended leave as a reasonable accommodation.
  • Preventing and Addressing Workplace Violence: A comprehensive discussion of workplace violence, including strategies for preventing and properly addressing acts of violence in the workplace.
  • An Employers Approach to Reducing Harassment: Questions employers should ask as they strive to reduce harassment in the workplace and cultivate a healthy working environment.

EVENT DETAILS:


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The recent Sixth Circuit opinion in Hostettler v. The College of Wooster, No. 17-3406 (6th Cir. July 17, 2018), is a cautionary tale for employers faced with a full-time employee seeking a modified work schedule as an accommodation for a disability under the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA).

An HR Generalist for the College, Hostettler was unable to return to work full time after the conclusion of her 12 weeks of maternity leave because of postpartum depression and separation anxiety.  The district court granted summary judgment to the College, finding that full-time work was an essential function of the position and that Hostettler was not a qualified individual under the ADA because she could not perform that essential function.


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Bass, Berry & Sims attorney Dustin Carlton discussed the tension that exists between state and federal laws regarding medical marijuana use in the workplace. While marijuana remains a controlled substance under federal law and currently illegal to use, many states have legalized the drug for medical and even recreational use. Many employers are faced with remaining compliant with these opposing laws. Dustin recommends employers review any current zero-tolerance policies in light of new state laws, “If you are a multi-state employer, you need to assume you need to make some modifications to tailor to each individual state, or make concessions in terms of past practices.”

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Bass, Berry & Sims and HR Professionals Magazine invite you to join us for a complimentary seminar focused on addressing, reducing and preventing sexual harassment claims in the workplace.

  • Harassment Law Refresher: A high-level review of harassment law.
  • Conducting Effective Internal Investigations: A discussion of best practices for conducting internal investigations into harassment claims.
  • The “Company Culture” Issue – How to Reduce Harassment in the Workplace: Strategies for reducing harassment in the workplace and developing a safe culture.

EVENT DETAILS:


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Labor Employment Seminar | November 16 | Memphis

Labor & employment attorneys Lymari Cromwell and Mary Leigh Pirtle will discuss the following topics:

  • FMLA/ADA: A practical, scenario-based discussion regarding extended leaves of absence and how they are regulated by application of the FMLA and the ADA, including a detailed discussion of the EEOC’s position with respect to extended leave as a reasonable accommodation.

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.

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