Bass, Berry & Sims attorney Tim Garrett discussed the implications of the ruling holding responsible the University of Connecticut Health Center for the sexual harassment of an employee by a fellow co-worker. In the ruling, the court found that the University of Connecticut Health Center did not take proper steps to alert supervisors of the co-workers prior harassment history which, therefore, prevented the supervisors from properly monitoring his behavior and allowed the misbehavior to occur. According to Tim, “While employers likely can’t monitor their staff at all times and eliminate all workplace harassment, they likely need to have a ‘heightened sense of awareness’ when an employee has been disciplined in the past, and companies will have a greater responsibility to monitor and investigate any allegations in those situations.”
Several new minimum wage rates are slated to take effect on January 1, 2018 in various cities throughout California, as well as the state as a whole. California employers should begin preparing now to adjust employee wages to ensure compliance with the new rates.
A summary of the new minimum wage rates for nonexempt employees is provided below:
Although the Trump administration rescinded its guidance on worker misclassification earlier this year and appears to have otherwise taken a “softer approach” to misclassification enforcement, California employers should remain diligent in properly classifying their workers and should not allow lax federal enforcement to lead to similarly lax corporate policies. California employers remain subject to strict laws governing worker misclassification. California law presumes that all workers who render services for another are non-exempt employees unless employers prove that they are independent contractors or exempt employees. Cal. Lab. Code § 3357. Employers who willfully misclassify their workers can be subject to steep penalties.
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.
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.
Texas Federal Judge Amos Mazzant has issued a final ruling striking down the overtime rule. In the August 31 ruling, Judge Mazzant used essentially the same reasoning on which he based his temporary injunction ruling. In light of this final decision, the appeal of his temporary injunction likely becomes moot. In addition, Judge Mazzant made clear that he is not finding that the DOL is prevented from ever using a particular salary level, but rather is invalidating this particular rule as going “too far” in essentially eliminating those who perform exempt duties but make less than the high salary threshold.
Just when you thought it was “safe to go back in the water,” a new flurry of class action claims based on asserted deficient COBRA notices is drawing the interest of class action plaintiff law firms.
Bass, Berry & Sims attorney Chris Lazarini commented on a case in which a former financial advisor of JPMS claimed his employment was terminated based on racial discrimination. Through application of the three-part burden shifting analysis developed in McDonnell Douglas Corp. V. Green, the court found no evidence of discrimination and upheld the termination due to the financial advisor’s violation of the company’s document integrity policies and not his race.
In an article published in the Spring 2017 edition of Employment Relations Today, Bass, Berry & Sims attorney Kimberly Veirs discussed ways employers can avoid retaliation claims in her article “Avoiding Workplace Retaliation: Guidance for Employers.” Workplace retaliation remains the most commonly reported complaint to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) by U.S. employees across all industries. Following a slew of these claims and high-profile court cases, the EEOC issued detailed enforcement guidance in August 2016 – its first such guidance since 1998. With workplace retaliation included as one of the commission’s substantive priorities in the Strategic Enforcement Plan for 2017-2021, the EEOC remains focused on ensuring that employees and job applicants are able to challenge discrimination without fear of retribution.
In an article published in the Nashville Business Journal, Bass, Berry & Sims attorney Tim Garrett discussed latest developments in employment law through the first months of the Trump presidency. The article covers the following developments: