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Total Articles: 38

Tennessee Governor Issues Order Urging Residents to Stay Home

Summary: Tennessee Governor Bill Lee issued Executive Order No. 22 on Monday, March 30, 2020, urging all Tennesseans to stay at home as much as possible except for engaging in essential activities, like obtaining food, supplies, or medical care. The Order stops short of ordering residents to stay at home. Governor Lee’s Order only closes non-essential businesses as to access or use by the public. Those businesses are instead encouraged to provide delivery or curbside service. The Order is effective at 11:59 p.m. on March 31, 2020 and shall remain in effect until April 14, 2020.

Federal Judge Enjoins City of Dallas' Paid Sick Leave Ordinance Set To Be Enforced on April 1

As many employers across the country are gearing up for the April 1 effective date of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act leave provisions, employers of Dallas employees were also concerned about how the City of Dallas’ Paid Sick Leave Ordinance’s April 1 enforcement date would impact them. The ordinance has been in federal litigation in the Eastern District of Texas. On March 30, 2020, United States District Judge Sean Jordan granted the Plaintiffs’ preliminary injunction and enjoined the City of Dallas or anyone “in active concert” with the City from enforcing the ordinance against any business or entity pending the resolution of lawsuit.

Tennessee Adopts 20-Factor Test in Independent Contractor Analysis

Rejecting the strict “ABC” test adopted by its appellate court, Tennessee has enacted a new law (H.B. 539) adopting a 20-factor test to determine employee-versus-independent contractor status. The new law becomes effective January 1, 2020.

Tennessee Expands Anti-Bullying Law to Private Employers

Tennessee recently amended its Healthy Workplace Act (Act), which seeks to prevent abusive conduct at work, to cover private employers. Enacted in 2014, the Act previously applied only to public employers. The amendment, which extends the Act’s provisions to the private sector, took effect immediately when Governor Bill Lee signed the bill into law on April 23, 2019.

Tennessee Expands Potential Immunity to Emotional Distress Claims to Private Employers

Tennessee employers have a new defense against employees bringing workplace environment-related lawsuits. An amendment expanding Tennessee’s Healthy Workplace Act to include private employers went into effect on April 23, 2019. Prior to the expansion, the law only applied to state and local government entities.

Dallas Joins Austin and San Antonio in Mandating Paid Sick Leave in Texas

On April 24, 2019, Dallas became the third city in the Lone Star State to adopt an ordinance requiring all private employers to provide paid sick leave to employees, following Austin and San Antonio.

Tennessee Amends Anti-Bullying Statute to Extend Protection From Infliction of Mental Anguish Claims to Private Employers

On April 23, 2019, Governor Bill Lee signed a bill that extends protection from some legal claims associated with workplace bullying to all Tennessee employers. Employers that adopt an anti-bullying policy that conforms to the law will be immune from lawsuits alleging intentional or negligent infliction of mental anguish due to the abusive conduct of employees.

Tennessee Employers Get Bullying Lawsuit Safe Harbor

Tennessee employers who want to avoid workplace-bullying lawsuits need only adopt the state’s model anti-bullying policy and they will enjoy immunity from such claims, thanks to a new law just signed into effect yesterday. Thanks to H.B. 856, an expansion of the Healthy Workplace Act, private employers can now take advantage of the law to shield themselves from troublesome legal claims spurred by allegations of workplace bullying. What should Tennessee employers do in order to capitalize on this new law?

Recently Enacted Tennessee Law Protects Gig Economy Companies

Frequent readers of our blog will recall our post from earlier this year where we referenced the efforts of gig economy company Handy to lobby legislators in a number of states to pass laws protecting the independent contractor status of individuals working in the online digital marketplace. That effort was recently successful in Tennessee.

Tennessee Department of Labor Revises Drug-Free Workplace Program Requirements

Twenty years ago, the Tennessee Department of Labor (TNDOL) adopted regulations implementing the Tennessee Drug-Free Workplace Act and establishing the Tennessee Drug-Free Workplace Program. This year, the TNDOL substantially revised these regulations. The revised regulations became effective on May 6, 2018.

Tennessee Gives Employers Option to Allow Limited Carrying of Concealed Firearms at Work

Tennessee property owners, including employers, are generally authorized to prohibit the possession of weapons by any person at meetings conducted by an employer or on property owned, operated, managed, or under the control of an employer. Tennessee has adopted very specific requirements for how employers and other property owners must notify employees and visitors when they seek to prohibit firearms on their properties.

Tennessee Employers Subject to New Obligations to Report Healthcare Practitioners' Confirmed Drug (but not Alcohol) Tests and Test Refusals

A new Tennessee law, effective July 1, 2017, imposes new reporting requirements on healthcare practitioner1 (HCP) employers. Under the new reporting law, in certain circumstances, HCP employers must "promptly" report to the state HCP employees with confirmed (positive) drug test results2 or those who refuse to submit to any work-related or directed drug test, including but not limited to pre-employment drug tests. The law does not apply to confirmed positive alcohol tests or refusals to submit to alcohol testing. The law does not contain an affirmative reporting obligation requiring reporting of information to other employers, although it does create a mechanism for certain employers to share information.

Tennessee’s Gun-Free Workplaces Must Heed New Notice Requirements

Tennessee generally allows employers to prohibit employees and other individuals from possessing weapons on properties owned or operated by employers. The primary exception to this general rule concerns individuals with lawful handgun carry permits storing their weapons in their personal vehicles while parked on an employer’s property.

2016 Tennessee Legislative Update

In its latest session, the Tennessee Legislature passed four bills that affect Tennessee public and private employers’ workplace policies and procedures.

Tennessee Legislative Update

Executive Summary: Governor Haslam recently signed several bills into law that will impact Tennessee employees and employers in both the public and private sectors. Employers may wish to reassess certain policies and practices in light of these changes.

Tennessee Amends Data Breach Notification Statute to Cover Encrypted Data and Address Timing

An amendment to the Tennessee’s data breach notification statute has eliminated a provision requiring notice only in the event of a breach of unencrypted personal information. Accordingly, it appears that Tennessee is the first state in the country to require breach notification regardless of whether the affected information was encrypted. The amendment (S.B. 2005), signed by Governor Bill Haslam on March 24, 2016, will take effect on July 1, 2016.

Tennessee Amends Breach Notification Statute

On March 24, 2016, Tennessee’s breach notification statute was amended when Governor Bill Hallam signed into law S.B. 2005.

Tennessee in Last Stages of Approving Guns on Campus

The Tennessee Senate has approved passage of a bill that will permit public college and university employees and students holding handgun carry permits to transport or store a firearm or ammunition in their own vehicles on campus without facing any adverse or disciplinary action. The House has passed a nearly identical companion bill. If the Senate adopts the House version, the bill will go to Governor Bill Haslam, who likely will sign it into law.

Tennessee Governor Signs Legislation Providing Additional Employment Protections for Handgun Owners

Executive summary: Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam has signed legislation providing new employment protections for handgun owners. As discussed in more detail in our March 25, 2015 Alert, the new law creates a private right of action for any employee who is terminated solely for storing a firearm or ammunition in the employee's vehicle while parked in the employer's parking lot. The law represents yet another outgrowth of the controversial "Guns in Trunks" legislation passed by the General Assembly in 2013.

Tennessee Governor Signs Law Prohibiting Employers From Disciplining Employees With Firearms in Vehicles

Two weeks ago, we reported that the Tennessee General Assembly had voted in favor of adding a provision to Tennessee’s “Guns in Trunks” law. On April 6, 2015, Governor Haslam signed the bill into law. Accordingly, a new provision will be added to Tennessee’s employment statutes prohibiting employers from discharging employees solely because they have a firearm or firearm ammunition stored in their vehicles while parked on the employer’s property.

Tennessee Poised to Prohibit Employers From Disciplining Employees With Firearms in Vehicles

On March 23, 2015, the Tennessee General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to end confusion surrounding Tennessee’s “Guns in Trunks” law. Tennessee has historically allowed property owners to prohibit firearms anywhere on their property—making it a crime for even a person with a valid handgun carry permit to carry a firearm on property the owner has posted as prohibiting firearms. In 2013, Tennessee enacted a statute, T.C.A. 39-17-1313(a), which decriminalized the actions of a person with a valid handgun permit that transported or stored firearms or ammunition in their personal vehicle in a parking area.

Tennessee Legislature Approves New Employment Protections for Handgun Owners

Executive summary: On March 23, 2015, members in both houses of the Tennessee General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to pass new employment protections for handgun owners. The bill creates a private right of action for any employee who is terminated solely for storing a firearm or ammunition in the employee's vehicle while parked in the employer's parking lot. This legislation, which now awaits the Governor's signature, represents yet another outgrowth of the controversial "Guns in Trunks" legislation passed by the General Assembly in 2013.

Tennessee OSHA Adopts new Federal Rules on Injury Reporting

In a recent blog post, John Martin, a shareholder in Washington, D.C. and a member of the firm’s Workplace Safety and Health Practice Group, discussed the federal Occupational Safety and Health Administration’s (OSHA) announcement of a new rule that significantly changes an employer’s duties to report workplace injuries to OSHA.

Recent Amendments to the Tennessee Human Rights Act

Sally Barron’s article “Recent Amendments to the Tennessee Human Rights Act” was featured in the December issue of HR Professionals magazine.

Tennessee Legislature Adds Employee Privacy Protections to "Internet Accounts"

Executive Summary: Accessing information about employees and applicants via their social media accounts just got a bit more complicated in Tennessee. This past legislative session, the Tennessee General Assembly passed the "Employee Online Privacy Act of 2014" aimed at protecting employees and applicants from being forced by an employer to turn over access to their social media accounts. The Act makes Tennessee part of a growing number of states enacting similar legislation. Although the Act, which takes effect January 1, 2015, can be seen as a win for employee privacy, it is not an absolute bar to employers using social media as a tool to monitor their employees' and applicants' actions. The law still leaves several permissible purposes for which employers may utilize social media in the employment context.

New Tennessee Law Limits Scope of Employment Discrimination

Executive Summary: Tennessee has drastically changed the legal landscape of employment discrimination litigation under state law. For claims arising after July 1, 2014, plaintiffs will no longer have the ability to seek unlimited compensatory damages in discrimination lawsuits; the common law claim of retaliatory discharge has been eliminated; and restrictions have been adopted on whistleblower claims. In addition, no longer will a supervisor or agent of the employer be subject to individual liability. These changes were designed to make the state employment discrimination laws mirror the federal discrimination laws.

Legal Alert: Tennessee Employee Gun Owner Protection Amendment Voted Down

Executive summary: On February 5, 2014, members of the Tennessee Senate voted down an amendment that would have created a specific employment protection for gun owners. The amendment sought to add a provision to the controversial "guns in trunks" law passed last year by the General Assembly, which would have prohibited Tennessee employers from terminating gun owners based on their exercise of the rights protected by the guns in trunks law.

New Legal Opinion Creates Confusion Over Tennessee “Guns in Trunks” Law

On May 28, 2013, the Tennessee Attorney General issued an opinion that determined that Tennessee’s new “guns in trunks” law did not prohibit an employer from discharging an employee for having a weapon in his or her vehicle while parked on the employer’s property. On January 13, 2014, the Office of Legal Services (OLS) of the General Assembly for Tennessee issued its own opinion in response to a question from Tennessee Lieutenant Governor Ron Ramsey as to whether the new law needed to be amended to prohibit employers from firing employees in such situations. The OLS concluded that the law did not need to be amended.

Legal Alert: Tennessee Financial Institutions Should Be Aware of a Rise in ATM Accessibility Lawsuits

Executive Summary: Banks and other financial institutions in Tennessee should take note of a recent string of lawsuits filed in Tennessee challenging the accessibility of automatic teller machines (ATMs). The lawsuits, which seek class certification, have been brought by a visually impaired plaintiff claiming the defendant institution's ATM lacks features required by recent changes to the Americans with Disabilities Act's (ADA) guidelines for visually impaired individuals.

Legal Alert: Tennessee Governor May Be Open to New Protections for Employee Gun Ownership

Executive Summary: The Nashville Post recently reported that Tennessee Governor Bill Haslam may be open to legislative efforts to include additional protections for employee gun owners in 2014.

Legal Alert: AG Opinion Provides Guidance on Tennessee's Safe Commute Act

Executive Summary: On May 28, 2013, Tennessee Attorney General Bob Cooper released an Opinion addressing the question of whether Tennessee's Safe Commute Act "prohibits an employer from terminating an at-will employee who brings a firearm or firearm ammunition onto the employer's property?" According to the Attorney General, it does not.

Legal Alert: Tennessee's Safe Commute Act May Impact Workplace Weapons Policies

Executive Summary: On March 14, 2013, Tennessee governor Bill Haslam signed into law the "Tennessee Safe Commute Act." The new law, which takes effect July 1, 2013, will allow handgun carry permit holders to store firearms and ammunition in their vehicle no matter where they are parked. With approximately 375,000 Tennesseans who hold handgun carry permits, the new law potentially will have a wide-ranging impact. However, conflicting statements by sponsors of the legislation raise questions regarding the new law's application with respect to an employer's ability to establish and enforce a policy prohibiting guns in the workplace.

Time Off To Vote In Tennessee

Remember, your Tennessee employees are entitled to take a reasonable period of time off to vote on election day. Tennessee law provides that they may take up to three hours, paid, if the work schedule does not permit them time to vote before or after work.

Tennessee Governor Signs Immigration Enforcement Law

Tennessee employers soon will be required to take several actions under a new immigration law. The Tennessee Lawful Employment Act requires employers to use E-Verify, or to maintain documentation of legal residency or valid U.S. work authorization for all employees hired after the effective date. The law takes effect for governmental entities and private employers with 500 or more employees on January 1, 2012. On July 1, 2012, the law will apply to private employers with 200-499 employees and all employers with more than six employees will be covered as of January 1, 2013. Employers will also be required to maintain documentation of legal residence or valid U.S. work authorization for non-employees providing labor or services.

McDonnell Douglas Bites the Dust in Tennessee.

Yesterday I wrote about Texas' own little corner of the workers' comp world, today it is the Volunteer State's turn to take the spotlight for its unique view of an element of employment law. In Gossett v. Tractor Supply Co. (Tenn. 9/20/10) a sharply divided Supreme Court dumped one of the long time stalwart's of employment discrimination and retaliation, the McDonnell Douglas shifting burden of proof for evaluating a plaintiff's claim.

Reminder: Employers Could Lose License For Hiring Illegals Under New Law.

Beginning January 1, 2008, Tennessee employers that knowingly hire illegal immigrants or fail to adequately check the status of illegal immigrants could lose their business license. Specifically, the law prohibits employers from employing, recruiting or referring for a fee of employment, illegal aliens. Employers do not, however, violate the new law if they use the federal electronic work authorization verification service to verify the employment status of workers within 14 days of their start date. Moreover, employers do not violate the law if they obtain the worker’s lawful resident verification information in a timely manner (even if this information is later determined to be false).

Employers Could Lose License For Hiring Illegals Under New Law.

Under a new law, Tennessee employers that knowingly hire illegal immigrants or fail to adequately check the status of illegal immigrants could lose their business license. Specifically, the law prohibits employers from employing, recruiting or referring for a fee of employment, illegal aliens. Employers do not, however, violate the new law if they use the federal electronic work authorization verification service to verify the employment status of workers within 14 days of their start date.

Tennessee Smoking Ban Takes Effect October 1, 2007.

On October 1, 2007, Public Chapter 410, also known as the “Non-Smoker Protection Act,” will become effective in the state of Tennessee. The new law prohibits smoking in most public places, including restaurants, educational facilities, health care facilities, hotels, shopping malls, sports arenas, restrooms, lobbies, reception areas, taxicabs, elevators and child care facilities.
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