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.

Continue Reading Chris Lazarini Comments on Direct vs. Circumstantial Evidence in Discrimination Case

In an article published earlier this year, I asked the question whether the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) protects racist insults.  In a decision rendered on August 8, 2017, a majority of an Eighth Circuit panel, over a vigorous dissent, answered “Yes” – that the NLRA does protect racist insults by a picketing worker.

Continue Reading 8th Circuit Panel Rules NLRA Protects Picketing Employee’s Racist Remarks

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.

Continue Reading Avoiding Workplace Retaliation: Guidance for Employers

In an article published by HR Professionals, Bass, Berry & Sims attorney Susie Bilbro provided insight on aspects plan sponsors should consider as they prepare for the 2018 open enrollment process. Among the key questions Susie suggests sponsors to ask themselves in the upcoming months are:

Continue Reading Open Enrollment Considerations for Plan Sponsors

On June 22, 2017, Senate Republicans released a draft of the Better Care Reconciliation Act (BCRA), their much-anticipated version of the legislation to “repeal and replace” the Affordable Care Act (ACA). Despite rumors of a re-write of the American Health Care Act that passed in the House of Representatives by a narrow vote on May 4, the BCRA largely mirrors the structure and certain key measures of the House version (see our previous alert dated May 5, 2017). On the other hand, the BCRA has already been criticized by the more vocal opponents of the ACA in the Senate for not going far enough to eliminate measures established under the ACA. The Senate could vote on the BCRA as early as next week, but given the uncertainty surrounding its success, it is likely to undergo amendments prior to then. This alert provides an overview of key provisions of the BCRA and how, as drafted, it would affect aspects of the ACA.

Continue Reading The Better Care Reconciliation Act: Similarities to House Healthcare Bill, Preserves Parts of ACA

In an article published by Employee Benefit News, Bass, Berry & Sims attorney Doug Dahl provided guidance for employers who now must comply with the Department of Labor’s (DOL) fiduciary rule. After months of delay, the rule went into effect on Friday, June 9, 2017, and provided guidance on who is considered a fiduciary under the new rule. Doug outlined the actions that employers and other plan sponsors should consider, such as identifying whether advisors are fiduciaries or have conflicts of interest, communicating plan details and watching IRA rollovers to ensure plan providers are not recommending specific plans or investments. However, not all plans are created equal. “The smaller a plan is, the more likely [it is] that you’re going to have conflicted advice under the new rule,” said Doug. “The key is knowing who the company’s investment fiduciaries are and making sure they are complying with the responsibilities they have toward the retirement plan and its participants.”

The full article, “What Employers Should Do To Ensure Fiduciary Rule Compliance,” was published on June 11, 2017, by Employee Benefit News and is available online.

The unwinding continues. The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) recently announced the withdrawal of the Obama administration’s previously issued informal guidance on independent contractors and joint employers.

In a very brief statement, the DOL announced that it was withdrawing a 2016 interpretation of the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) which expanded the joint employer standard from one requiring a business to have direct control over an employee to a more broad and ambiguous standard of indirect control.

Continue Reading DOL Withdraws Obama-era Letters on Joint Employer and Classification Guidance

Bass, Berry & Sims attorney Doug Dahl commented on the Department of Labor’s (DOL) new fiduciary rule that will impact how and when an individual is treated as a fiduciary under ERISA if that person provides investment advice. While many expected a further delayed applicability, parts of the new rule will take effect June 9, 2017. Because of the new regulations, “some advisors may decide to exit the retirement planning sector of the financial industry or they may close up shop altogether rather than deal with lawsuits and enforcement issues,” said Doug.