Bass Berry & Sims Labor Talk

Can Employer Require Impaired Employee to Take Medication?

Posted in Discrimination and Harassment Law and Practice

The EEOC says no. In a recent case, the EEOC filed suit against a paper company in Michigan over this issue. The employee had a seizure at work and was diagnosed with epilepsy. After a period of leave, the employee was released to return to work by his physician. Continue Reading

Hidden Risks in Confidentiality Requirements

Posted in Employment Agreements/Non-Compete Policies and Practice

Bass, Berry & Sims attorneys Tim Garrett and Dustin Carlton authored an article outlining the actions employers should take to avoid violating the Dodd-Frank Act relating to confidentiality agreements. Rule 21F-17 was adopted by the SEC to prevent employers from taking any action that would prevent an employee from “directly communicating with the Commission staff about a possible securities law violation.” To highlight the risk, Tim and Dustin provided details related to the SEC’s first enforcement action under Rule 21F-17 that was brought against a company for language found in the company’s confidentiality agreement. As pointed out in the article, “employers should review confidentiality provisions in employee handbooks/codes of conduct, severance agreements, and practices for internal investigations” for any language that conflicts with Rule 21F-17.

The full article, “Hidden Risks in Confidentiality Requirements” was published in the August/September 2015 issue of Today’s General Counsel and is available online.

Northwestern Football Players’ Unionization Drive Halted

Posted in Labor Board Proceedings and Practice, Union Organizing and Collective Bargaining

In a ruling on August 17, 2015, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) decided that it should not exercise jurisdiction over the unionization attempts by Northwestern football players.  The NLRB “punted” the issue and declined to decide whether the football players were employees permitted to unionize under the National Labor Relations Act. Continue Reading

Motives Matter: Ignorance is No Defense for Employers in Religious Accommodation Cases

Posted in Hiring and Recruiting, Labor Board Proceedings and Practice

In a recent decision, the Supreme Court of the United States made an important distinction with respect to employment decisions: what matters is not what an employer knows, but why an employer acts.  As esoteric as the distinction may seem in the abstract, the ruling has real-world implications for employers encountering an increasingly-diversified pool of applicants and employees. Continue Reading

Bill Ozier Authors Article on New Protected Status for Employees with Valid Handgun Permits

Posted in Doing Business in Tennessee

Bass, Berry & Sims attorney Bill Ozier authored an article for the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce & Industry outlining the details of a new bill passed by the Tennessee Legislature in 2015 that creates a new protected status for employees that have a valid handgun carry permit. As explained in the article, “[t]he statute prohibits an employer from discharging or taking any adverse action against an employee solely for transporting or storing a firearm or ammunition in an employer parking area, provided that the employee complies with the provisions of the ‘Guns in Trunks’ legislation passed in 2013.” In the article, Bill further explains how employers will be effected by this new legislation.

The full article, “Tennessee Legislature Enacts New Protection for Employees with Valid Handgun Carry Permits,” was published in the Summer 2015 issue of the Business Insider, a publication of the Tennessee  Chamber of Commerce & Industry and is available online.

Single Severe Act Can Be Sexual Harassment – But How “Severe”?

Posted in Discrimination and Harassment Law and Practice

Wise employers know that a single severe act can be enough to satisfy the standard of “severe or pervasive” and be sexual harassment.  But how severe does the act have to be?

A recent 6th Circuit ruling gives some assistance.  In Ault v. Oberlin College, the Court discussed why a single physical incident was sufficiently severe.  The ruling is likewise informative because it also discusses why several infrequent but boorish comments were not sufficiently severe or pervasive. Continue Reading

Webinar Recap: How To Prepare for the “Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces” Proposed Rule and Accompanying Guidance

Posted in Wage and Hour Law and Practice

Yesterday my colleague Todd Overman and I presented an hour-long webinar discussing how to prepare for and navigate the “Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces” proposed rule and accompanying guidance.

On May 28, 2015, the Obama Administration published the much anticipated proposed DOL guidance and accompanying Federal Acquisition Regulation (FAR) proposed rule implementing EO 13673, Fair Pay and Safe Workplaces (July 31, 2014). In the webinar we highlighted key elements of both publications and their impact on government contractors, including:

  • The new “labor law violation” disclosure requirements and resulting contracting officer responsibility determinations
  • Unique role of “Labor Compliance Advisors”
  • Paycheck transparency and independent contractor notice requirements
  • Limitation on companywide arbitration plans

Feel free to listen to the webinar below or download the slides.

Implications of Proposed Changes to DOL Overtime Rules

Posted in Wage and Hour Law and Practice

Bass, Berry & Sims attorney Stephanie Roth authored an article outlining the details of the U.S. Department of Labor’s (DOL) proposed rules to increase the salary level threshold for those employees eligible for overtime pay. In addition, according to Stephanie, “the DOL has left open the possibility of changing the job duties test, which could have more far-reaching implications for workforce structure than the proposed salary level increase.” The proposed rules are open to a 60-day comment period in which individuals can voice concerns over the increased salary guidelines and the effectiveness of the current job duties test.

The full article, “The Jury Is Out On Outcome Of DOL Overtime Rules,” was published by Law360 on July 7 and is available online.

Antitrust Claims Related to Employee Poaching

Posted in Hiring and Recruiting

Can employers enter into pacts not to “poach” each other’s employees? That is the question at the center of a recent case claiming that two universities conspired to depress compensation for faculty members in violation of federal antitrust law. A radiologist at Duke University School of Medicine filed the suit after applying and being rejected as an applicant at the University of North Carolina. The applicant was told the universities had agreed to block lateral moves of faculty between the universities. What are the legal concerns regarding employee poaching behavior?

My colleagues, Dale Grimes and Gingie Yetter, analyzed the case in a recent client alert, “Academic Medical Centers Target of Latest Employee Anti-Poaching Antitrust Claim,” that is available online.

Union Financing Case to be Heard by Supreme Court

Posted in Union Organizing and Collective Bargaining

Bass, Berry & Sims attorney Michael Moschel was quoted in a Modern Healthcare article that outlined the details of a Supreme Court case (Friedrichs vs. California Teachers Association) in which the court will decide whether unions can continue to collect fees from non-members as long as those fees are not used for political purposes. In the current case, the teachers association is asking the court to essentially overturn a longstanding precedent established in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education in which the court ruled that unions have the right to collect fees from non-member because the non-members ultimately benefit from any union negotiations.  According to Michael, “[i]f Abood is reversed, the court would essentially create a ‘right-to-work’ law for public sector employees.”

The full article, “High Court Case Could Threaten Finances of Unions at Public Systems,” was published by Modern Healthcare on June 30 and is available online.