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 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.

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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.

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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

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

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.

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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.


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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).

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The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has updated their mandatory posters, which notify employees of their rights under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and Employee Polygraph Protection Act (EPPA), to no longer list the civil monetary penalties that may be assessed for violations of the aforementioned Acts.  Additionally, the FSLA poster has also