News

Register Today for the 135th Annual TBA Convention

Join us on June 15-18 in Nashville for the 135th Annual Convention! Registration for the 2016 TBA Convention includes:

  • free access to all TBA CLE programming;
  • the Opening Reception;
  • the Bench Bar Programming and Luncheon;
  • Law School and general breakfasts;
  • the Lawyers Luncheon;
  • the Thursday evening Joint (TBA/TLAW/TABL) Reception;
  • the Thursday night dinner and entertainment at the George Jones Museum;
  • and the Friday night Dance Party.

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Ruby Tuesday Server Sues Chain Over Untipped Tasks

The Associated Press reports a Ruby Tuesday server filed a federal lawsuit against the Tennessee-based restaurant chain, claiming she is required to do “excessive untipped side work.” The national minimum wage for tipped workers is $2.13 per hour.

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Worker's Stepson May Still Receive Benefits Following Widow's Death

The Tennessee Supreme Court’s Special Workers’ Compensation Appeals Panel last week reversed a lower court ruling that could mean Ashland City-based Trinity Marine Products Inc. is still liable for payments to the estate of a worker whose widow died before receiving benefits. The widow, Marilyn Stamps, claimed her husband died from an occupational lung disease and that she and her son were entitled to workers comp benefits, Business Insurance reports. Stamps died in 2014. The Chancery Court agreed with Trinity when the company argued that the right to receive benefits terminates upon the surviving spouse’s death. The case has been remanded to the trial court.

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Amendment Would Deny Unemployment Benefits to Pregnant Women, Others

A little-noticed amendment to unrelated legislation, if adopted, would mean that workers with medical conditions and women who are pregnant would be denied unemployment benefits. The bill, SB2481 by Sen. Mark Green, R-Clarksville, and its companion, HB2512 by Rep. Andy Holt, R-Dresden, cleared the Senate Finance Committee Wednesday but was re-referred to the House Finance Subcommittee yesterday. To learn more and voice your views, visit TBA Impact.  

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DOL 'Persuader' Rule a Bad Idea, Alexander Says

A proposed “persuader” rule from the Department of Labor is a bad idea, Sen. Lamar Alexander says. The Chattanoogan reports that the rule would require employers who receive guidance from lawyers or labor consultants to file reports to the Labor Department that they have, for example, been advised by a lawyer on what to say to their employees in a speech. Alexander also notes that the Tennessee Bar Association has said the rule will “discourage lawyers from giving legal advice to employers due to confidentiality concerns.”

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Tyson Foods Ordered to Pay Overtime Wages

The Supreme Court today upheld a judgment against Tyson Foods Inc. in a pay dispute with more than 3,000 Iowa employees who claimed they were stiffed overtime pay. The Huffington Post reports the employees were seeking pay for time spent putting on protective equipment before slaughtering animals. In a 6-2 ruling, the Supreme Court rejected Tyson’s arguments that the plaintiffs improperly relied on statistical average of time spent putting on equipment and that the company should not have been forced to defend a class-action lawsuit. 

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Judge Rules Chipotle's Social Media Policy Illegal

An administrative judge ruled this week in favor of a Chipotle employee who was fired last year after criticizing the fast-food chain on Twitter. The ruling said the company’s social media rules violated labor laws and ordered the restaurant to post signs acknowledging some of its employee policies were illegal. Chipotle is also required to rehire the Philadelphia-based employee and pay him for lost wages, the Associated Press reports.

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Lawful Employment Act Heads to Senate Floor, House Committee

The Tennessee Lawful Employment Act is on its way to House Finance, Ways and Means Committee and the Senate floor. HB1830 by Rep. Pat Marsh, R-Shelbyville, and SB1965 by Sen. Jim Tracy, R-Shelbyville, as amended requires employers with 50-200 employees to enroll in E-Verify when hiring.

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Depositions, Workers' Comp Claims Court in March Issue

Depositions are a basic tool for many trials, but are you using them in the most effective way possible? Dan Berexa looks at best practices for depositions in this issue of the Journal. Judge Kenneth Switzer and Jane Pribek Salem explain what you need to know about Tennessee’s Court of Workers’ Compensation Claims. For instance, at the trial level an average of 52 days pass from the time a mediator certifies a dispute until a workers’ compensation judge issues an order. Judge Pamela B. Johnson tells you the do's and don'ts of how to practice in the relatively new court. Read these stories and more in the March Journal.

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Union Appeals Ruling on Who Controls Contracts

A Nashville public employees union has appealed to the state Supreme Court to settle what it says is a split in who in the school district has authority over non-licensed support staff – the director of schools or the school board. A Chancery Court judge ruled in favor of the union in its lawsuit, but Metro Schools won its appeal, the Tennessean reports.

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Senate Votes to Nullify Nashville Local-Hire Bill

The state Senate on Monday passed a bill to nullify a local-hire rule that requires at least 40 percent of work hours on certain Nashville construction projects go to Davidson County residents. Nashville residents in August approved the measure, and the move to nullify it drew criticism from Nashville Democrat Sen. Jeff Yarbro. “I think that we should be a little more reluctant than this to go in and overturn the will of the voters,” he said. Attorney General Hebert Slatey issued an opinion in October stating that the rule violates state law. Read more from The Tennessean

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Summary of Recent LGBT Restriction Bills

The Tennessean offers a summary of half a dozen LGBT-related bills regarding marriage rights, defining gender roles and bathroom access. The list includes the "Natural Marriage" bill (HB 1412/SB 1437), the Counselor Protection bill (HB 1850/SB 1556) and the Birth Gender bill (HB 2600/SB 2275).

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Cheddar's Reaches Settlement in Sexual Harassment Suit

A Memphis Cheddar’s restaurant settled a lawsuit, filed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, that claimed the restaurant maintained a hostile work environment. The suit also stated Cheddar’s managers asked employees for sexual favors, WREG reports. The settlement requires the restaurant to pay $450,000 to 15 people and pay for the maintenance of workplace cameras.

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In This Issue: Retaliatory Discharge, Advanced Care Planning and Dale Bumpers

This month the Tennessee Bar Journal's employment law column by Edward Phillips and Brandon Morrow covers retaliatory discharge in "Badges and Blown Whistles: Recent Retaliatory Discharge Actions in Tennessee." Monica Franklin collaborates with Dr. Gregory Phelps in her elder law column, "Advanced Care Planning: When Law and Medicine Intersect."  Humor columnist Bill Haltom writes about the late Dale Bumpers, the small-town lawyer who defended Bill Clinton before the Senate in the 1999 impeachment trial. Read these and the rest of the February issue.

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Supreme Court Debates Teacher Tenure Law

“Should teachers be given benefits if a hearing challenging the possible firing is delayed past 30 days?” The Tennessean reports Tennessee Supreme Court justices are weighing that question as they review the state law that sets procedures for how school boards must handle the firing of tenured teachers. State law currently requires that a hearing “shall” not be set later than 30 days after a teacher asks for it. The debate stems from a case brought by a former Memphis high school teacher who did not receive a hearing until a year after her suspension.

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Tennessee Fashion Law: Protecting Brands and More

The TBA will offer a first-of-its-kind Tennessee Fashion Law CLE on March 31 at the Tennessee Bar Center in Nashville. Topics include protecting fashion brands through copyright, regulations that govern merchandize labeling and disclosure, and employment issues unique to fashion law. The course, scheduled from 1 to 4:15 p.m., is approved for three CLE credits.

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'Workers' Comp Opt-Out' Bill Dead

The legislation known as the "Workers' Comp Opt-Out" bill is dead for this session. The Tennessee Employee Injury Benefit Alternative legislation, SB721, HB997, by Sen. Mark Green, R-Clarksville, and Rep. Jeremy Durham, R-Franklin, was taken off notice this week. Proponents of the bill stated that at this time they do not plan to run it this legislative session. A hearing on the bill scheduled for Feb. 10 in a House committee has been cancelled.   

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Judge Overturns Ruling in Nashville Schools' Dispute with Union

Nashville's former director of schools legally suspended an agreement with the Service Employees International Union in 2011, a recent decision from Court of Appeals Judge Richard Dinkins says. The opinion overturns a lower court decision that said Jesse Register did not have the authority to suspend the the labor negotiations policy that represented non-licensed employees. An attorney for SEIU said he plans to appeal to the Tennessee Supreme Court. Read more from The Tennessean.

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In This Issue: A Twist on DUI, Family Law and Torts

You know how DUI works -- at least the kind involving alcohol, but what about when the driver is impaired by drugs? Circuit Judge Tom Wright and UT Law student Christopher Graham explain in the January Tennessee Bar Journal what's different about that and what you need to know. (You can also learn more on the same subject from this upcoming TBA CLE webcast.) TBJ family law columnist Marlene Eskind Moses covers employment benefits as separate property and John Day writes about unintended consequences in tort law (Breaking Bad fans will especially enjoy this take on it). Humor columnist Bill Haltom questions the legislature's interest in events on the campus of UT-Knoxville. Read the entire issue.

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No Overtime Pay for Lawyer Required to Review 13,000 Documents

The ABA Journal reports a New York lawyer required to review 13,000 documents will not receive overtime pay because a judge said the lawyer was using “legal judgment.” Federal and New York state law do not require overtime pay for licensed attorneys engaged in the practice of law. Attorney William Henig said he did not exercise legal judgment while reviewing the documents for about two months in 2012 while working as a temporary contract lawyer for Quinn Emanuel Urquhart & Sullivan. Henig was paid $35 an hour. (This story originally appeared in the The New York Law Journal, sub. req.)

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Lawsuit Claims Logan's Roadhouse Stiffed Employees

At least half a dozen Chattanooga-area current and former employees of Logan’s Roadhouse have joined a class-action lawsuit against the Nashville-based restaurant chain. The employees, along with more than 3,000 nationwide, say Logan’s stiffed them by having them spend more than 20 percent of their time doing non-tipped side work while clocked in as tipped employees. The employees say they were only paid $2.13 an hour and claim the company forced them to falsely report “phantom tips” to make it look like they were being paid the minimum wage of $7.25 an hour. Logan’s denies the lawsuit’s allegations, the Times Free Press reports

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Discrimination Suit Against Farmers Granted Class Action Status

A California federal judge certified a class action status to a discrimination suit in which a group of female current and former attorneys of Farmers Insurance claim the company paid men higher salaries. Lynne Coates, who had worked for Farmers for a total of nine years, filed the original complaint in which she alleged Farmers was paying less-experienced male employees a larger salary than her own. Twelve attorneys have joined the suit. Read more from the Insurance Journal.

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UT Reaches $750K Settlement in Discrimination Lawsuit

The University of Tennessee announced Monday it had reached a $750,000 settlement with its former associate director of sports medicine and two ex-Lady Volunteers strength coaches in a gender discrimination and retaliation lawsuit. Jenny Moshak, Heather Mason and Collin Schlosser claimed in the 2012 lawsuit that they received less compensation than employees holding similar positions and performing comparable tasks for men's teams. School officials said that "the university unequivocally denies that any of the three former employees suffered any discrimination or retaliation." Read more from the Associated Press.

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Auditors Question State's Readiness for New Merit-Pay System

State auditors and top Human Resources Department officials are sparring over the application of Gov. Bill Haslam's new merit-pay system, The Times Free Press reports. The system replaced across-the-board pay raises for 40,000-plus executive-branch employees. Auditors question if managers and supervisors were adequately trained to deliver objective evaluations. "We feel very confident that our learning initiatives are competent and effective," Human Resources Commissioner Rebecca Hunter said during hearing on the audit in December.

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Lawmakers' HR Policy Needed, Experts Say

Experts tell The Tennessean that the state legislature needs a human resources system to hold lawmakers accountable. HR officials who work with lawmakers have no power when it comes to discipline, instead lawmakers’ colleagues are responsible for action. “You have more likelihood that somebody could abuse those systems because there is not a strict course of accountability to keep that in check,” said Allison Duke, associate dean of Lipscomb University’s graduate business program. 

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