News

Uber Lawsuit Moves Forward, Challenges Company for Reimbursement

A federal lawsuit filed by three Uber drivers in California can proceed as a class-action suit and challenge the company for tips and gas reimbursement, following a ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Edward Chen, Forbes reports.The lawsuit now represents 160,000 people who drive for Uber in California. Judge Chen rejected Uber’s assertion that the three people filing did not represent the entire company, saying that the 400 driver testimonials presented by Uber in the courtroom were “statistically insignificant." Uber’s current business model is based on drivers paying their own expenses because they are independent contractors, not employees.

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State Requests Agency to Review Prison System

The state of Tennessee requested an independent accrediting agency to review certain practices and policies within the state prison system, The Tennessean reports. Tennessee Department of Correction Commissioner Derrick Schofield asked the American Correctional Association to conduct the review. The agency will focus its review on five of the state’s 13 prisons, reviewing officer schedules and how the state classifies assaults or attacks within prisons.

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NLRB: Companies Can Be Liable for Actions of Franchises

The National Labor Relations Board today ruled 3-2 that companies can be held liable for labor violations committed by franchises and contractors, the Washington Examiner reports. "With more than 2.87 million of the nation's workers employed through temporary agencies in August 2014, the board held that its previous joint employer standard has failed to keep pace with changes in the workplace and economic circumstances," the board said.

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Restaurant Workers File Suit, Claim They Were Underpaid

Current and former employees filed suit against O’Charley’s and McDonald’s in separate federal wage-and-hour class action claims, stating they were underpaid. According to the Nashville Post, one current and two former Nashville-area employees allege they worked full shifts and attended training sessions at McDonald’s for which they were not paid. A former O’Charley’s server said he was paid $2.13 hour tip rate while doing untipped work and was denied overtime for working after closing time.

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Court Square Series Offers 3 CLE Hours in Dyersburg, Jackson

Judge C. Creed McGinley and Judge J. Steven Stafford will speak at the annual Court Square CLE in Dyersburg, Sept. 17. Judge Allen Phillips will talk about his role on the Court of Workers' Compensation Claim at the Court Square CLE in Jackson. Both programs offer three hours of CLE.

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Supreme Court Rules in Job Application Dispute

The Tennessee Supreme Court unanimously ruled that a job applicant does not have a claim against a prospective employer when the employer fails to hire the person because he or she previously filed a workers’ compensation claim. In Kighwaunda M Yardley v. Hospital Housekeeping Systems LLC, Yardley asserted she was not hired for a new cleaning job at her place of employment because she had previously filed for workers' compensation. The court declined to recognize a cause of action for retaliatory failure to hire, explaining there is a fundamental difference between discharging an employee and refusing to hire a job applicant.

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Bill Provides Protection for State National Guard Members

State Sen. Richard Briggs, R-Knoxville, is introducing legislation that would provide immunity and personal liability protection for Tennessee National Guard members involved in protection during a terrorist attack, Nooga reports. “Our Tennessee National Guardsmen have become targets of terrorists, as demonstrated by the tragic events in Chattanooga,” Briggs said. The proposal comes one month after the July 16 shooting in Chattanooga that killed five service members. The bill is being developed in consultation with Gov. Bill Haslam and Adjutant General Max Haston, according to the paper.

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New Chattanooga City Handbook Approved

The new handbook for Chattanooga city employees will include LGBT protections, despite efforts by one councilman to have them removed, Nooga reports. Councilman Chip Henderson wanted to replace the handbook’s nondiscrimination and anti-harassment policies to mirror guidleines drafted by the Equal Employment Opporunity Commission. The city council unanimously adopted the new handbook after 18 months of putting the nearly 200-page guide together.

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Chattanooga Councilman Wants To Revise Nondiscrimination Policy

Councilman Chip Henderson wants to remove nondiscrimination and anti-harassment policies from Chattanooga’s city handbook, Nooga.com reports. Henderson would like the handbook to include guidelines written by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which are based on the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and do not mention sexual orientation or gender identity. Chattanooga’s city handbook currently includes policies that list sexual orientation and gender identity as protected classes.

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2nd Circuit Upholds Contraceptive Opt-Out

The opt-out process for religious nonprofits that do not want to provide contraceptive insurance coverage for employees under the Affordable Care Act does not violate the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Friday. The challenge to the process was brought by four Catholic nonprofits, which argued it made them complicit in the delivery of contraceptive services. Six other federal appeals courts have issued similar rulings, either on the merits or by denying preliminary injunctions, the ABA Journal reports.

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Stevenson Named Nashville's Emerging Legal Leader

Attorney Joycelyn A. Stevenson was among community leaders honored last night at the Nashville Area Chamber of Commerce and YP Nashville's annual Nashville Emerging Leader Awards ceremony at Lipscomb University. Stevenson, a shareholder at Littler Mendelson, was named a leader in the legal services category. She practices labor and employment and business immigration law. The Tennessean has the full list of award winners.

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Chancellor Moody to Speak at Kingsport CLE

Chancellor E.G. Moody will share his tips for local practitioners at the annual Court Square CLE in Kingsport on Sept. 9. Also joining him will be attorneys Michael Crowder and Andy Wampler, who will cover the basics of social security retirement benefits and the Fair Labor Standards Act.

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Appeals Court Revives Walmart Class Action Suit

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals has revived a gender discrimination lawsuit filed in Nashville by female employees of Walmart. Barring an appeal, the ruling allows the case to continue as a class-action lawsuit, the Tennessean reports. The women had been part of a national suit against the company but the U.S. Supreme Court found that the group did not qualify for class-action status. The appeals court said they allowed the suit to continue because the women narrowed their case.

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Programs Will Focus on I-9 Employment

Chattanooga attorney Terrance L. Olsen will give I-9 Employment presentations in Nashville on Aug. 4, in Chattanooga in late September and in Lexington, Kentucky, in early November. The presentations will address how to understand, apply and adhere to an I-9 compliance system; how to develop, install and maintain a self-audit system; and how to be aware of, communicate through and comply with federal & state I-9 penalties and punishments, the Chattanoogan reports.

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Court Reverses Dismissal of Health Care Liability Lawsuit

The Tennessee Supreme Court has reversed a trial court’s dismissal of a health care liability lawsuit against an East Tennessee doctor and hospital, concluding that delivery of pre-suit notice of a health care liability action via FedEx is a proper method of service under Tennessee law. In a unanimous opinion authored by Chief Justice Sharon G. Lee, the Supreme Court held that the delivery of pre-suit notice to health care defendants may be achieved by substantially complying with the statute and that use of FedEx as the carrier of the notice letters constitutes substantial compliance. The AOC has more.

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Obama Announces New Overtime Rules

President Barack Obama yesterday announced new rules that will allow salaried workers making up to $50,440 to be eligible for time-and-a-half overtime pay, the ABA Journal reports. The new rules, which will take effect in 2016 after a comment period, raise the salary floor from $23,660, which was set in 2004. The administration estimates that five million workers will benefit from the change.

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Speakers Announced for 2015 Equal Justice University

The Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services has announced several national speakers for the 2015 Equal Justice University scheduled for Sept. 2-4 at the Embassy Suites in Murfreesboro. This year’s featured speaker will be Ramón P. Arias, former executive director of Bay Area Legal Aid in California and a member of the Equal Justice Works board. Other presenters include Rebecca Dixon with the National Employment Law Project, Eric Carlson with Justice in Aging and Georgetown University law professor David Super. The annual conference is cosponsored by the TBA.

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Union Dispute Could Go to Supreme Court

A group of California school teachers backed by a conservative political organization, has asked the Supreme Court to rule that unions representing government workers can't collect fees from those who choose not to join. Half the states currently require state workers represented by a union to pay "fair share" fees that cover bargaining costs, even if they are not members. Union opponents say it violates First Amendment rights to require nonmembers to pay fees that may go to causes they don't support. The justices could decide as early as next week whether to take up the case. WRCB has the story from the AP.

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When Competition is a Bad Word

More and more employers now ask employees to sign non-compete agreements, but what does that really mean? According to attorney and Knoxnews columnist Chris McCarty, it means that our courts don't like non-compete agreements, but they will still enforce reasonable ones. And determining "reasonable" comes down to two t's: time and territory. Read more at Knoxnews.com

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Court Rules on Head Scarf, Internet Threats

The U.S. Supreme Court today issued orders from its May 28 conference and four decisions in argued cases. In Mellouli v. Lynch, the court ruled that a lawful permanent resident may not be deported after a misdemeanor state drug paraphernalia conviction. In Bank of America v. Caulkett, the court found that when a mortgage lien is worth more than the market value of the property, courts may not reduce the lien’s value to the property’s market value. In EEOC v. Abercrombie & Fitch Stores, the court found for a job applicant whose faith dictates a personal practice that contradicts the company’s workplace rules, even though the rules are entirely neutral about religion. And in Elonis v. United States, the court overturned a Pennsylvania man’s conviction for making threats over the Internet. SCOTUSblog has more on each of the decisions.

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June TBJ: Paternity Fraud, Economic Losses, Grad Advice

In this issue, learn how to successfully file a paternity fraud lawsuit by reading an article by Peggy R. Smith. You may also need to know how to calculate economic losses in employment termination cases, which Charles Baum explains. In this graduation season, Andra J. Hedrick writes a letter to herself (and new grads) about what to expect and what she would have done differently. There's a lot more in the June issue -- take a look!

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Justices Side With Employees Over Retirement Plan

The Supreme Court ruled unanimously today in favor of participants in employee retirement plans who object to companies' investment decisions that eat into retirement savings, WMC News 5 reports. The justices revived claims by current and former employees of energy company Edison International who argued that the company chose mutual funds with excessive fees. The Supreme Court disagreed with the appellate decision in an opinion by Justice Stephen Breyer. People in charge of investment options have an ongoing responsibility to monitor the situation, Breyer said. "The continuing duty to review investments includes a duty to remove imprudent investments," Breyer said. The AP has more.

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Court: Judges Can Review EEOC Bids to Settle Job Bias

A unanimous U.S. Supreme Court ruled Wednesday that federal judges have authority, though limited, to make sure the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is trying hard enough to settle charges of job discrimination before filing lawsuits against employers. WRCB has the Associated Press story.

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TALS Seeks Presenters for Equal Justice Conference

The Tennessee Alliance for Legal Services (TALS) is seeking presenters to speak at this year’s Equal Justice University set for Sept. 2-4 at the Embassy Suites Hotel in Murfreesboro. The conference, cosponsored by the TBA, is the annual gathering for Tennessee’s Access to Justice community. Speakers are sought to provide substantive law courses, ethics and professionalism training, and technology and communications skills. Send proposals by May 15 to TALS’ Policy & Training Director Anne Fox.

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Labor CLE to Include Session on Pregnancy Discrimination

Recent administration guidelines and case law on pregnancy discrimination will be addressed at this year’s Annual Labor & Employment CLE set for April 24 at the Tennessee Bar Center.

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