News

Employment in Legal Sector Back Up

September data, released Friday by the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, shows that 5,900 more people are employed in the legal sector now than were at the same point last year, and that the industry has seen a net gain of 2,900 jobs since the start of 2012. Friday's report raises the total number of people employed in the legal sector above 1.12 million, a figure that -- with the exception of July 2012 -- the industry had not reached since July 2009. Prior to the onset of the global financial crisis in 2008, the legal industry regularly employed roughly 1.17 million people. The AmLaw Daily has more

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Legal Issues Surround Employer Health Care

Tennessee is one of 24 states that has not determined a position on whether to choose state, federal or federal/state partnership-operated health exchange to facilitate individual purchases of health insurance under the Affordable Care Act, attorney Dick Cowart writes in a column. The individual and Medicaid mandates have been much in the news and in the courts already, but Cowart explains that the "employer mandate" will be the next hurdle, and some employers are worried. Read his column in the Tennessean.

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Report Calls for ‘Structural Change’ to Workers' Comp

Gov. Bill Haslam reportedly is gearing up for workers' compensation reform, saying he plans to propose legislation on the issue while drawing on a new report that makes a range of recommendations. The report, just released by the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development, recommends a "structural" change to the state's system, largely moving it out of the courts and altering a range of legal definitions. The Nashville Business Journal has more.

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Tennessee Wal-Mart Workers File Class Action

Women who work for Tennessee’s largest private employer filed a court case Tuesday claiming pay discrimination. The federal lawsuit against Wal-Mart follows an unsuccessful case that involved women coast-to-coast. The U.S. Supreme Court ruled against a nationwide class-action lawsuit last year in part because the women didn’t have enough in common to constitute a class. The Tennessee case is the first in an expected wave of smaller, regional suits, brought by civil rights attorneys with Nashville’s Barrett Johnston law firm. Nashville Public Radio has the story.

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ABA President to Keynote Nashville Economic Event

American Bar Association President Laurel Bellows will keynote the Nashville 2012 Economic Summit on Women on Oct. 22 and appear at a reception the night before. The Summit is sponsored by the Tennessee Economic Council on Women, and will be held at the Nashville Airport Marriott. Bellows will join two other headliners: Lilly Ledbetter, responsible for the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, and Deb Sofield, an executive speech and presentation coach. For information, contact Jane Powers.

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Real Property, Employment Law Headline October 'Journal'

The Tennessee Bar Journal this month studies the state’s real property rules and the available tools in an article by Chancellor Telford E. Forgety Jr., George W. Kuney and Devin P. Lyon. Also, Mark C. Travis explains the T.E.A.M Act, involving public sector employment law. President Jackie Dixon stresses the importance of civility, especially for lawyers, and columnists Don Paine, Edward G. Phillips and Monica J. Franklin update you on evidence, the Tennessee Lawful Employment Act, and Medicaid in Estate Recovery, respectively. Bill Haltom explores the thinking of jurors who in a recent case dressed alike or with a coordinated theme every day of the trial. Look in your mailbox for the October issue, or read the Journal online

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Jennings Sues UT, Alleges Age and Sex Discrimination

Former University of Tennessee Lady Vols media director Debby Jennings has filed a lawsuit against the school and athletic director Dave Hart, saying that she was forced to retire because they wanted to remodel the athletic department as a “good ol’ boys” club while replacing her with a younger man. Jennings, who had been with UT for 35 years, filed the suit Thursday with the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee. The Tennessean has the story

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Court: Employee Must Exhaust Benefit Review First

The Tennessee Supreme Court ruled today that in a workers’ compensation case, Lacey Chapman v. DaVita Inc., the employee must exhaust the benefit review conference process before filing suit as required by state law. Learn more from the court

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Court: Time Stamp Overrides in Workers’ Comp Cases

The Tennessee Supreme Court has reiterated that workers’ compensation lawsuits can be filed only after the state has officially declared that a formal review could not resolve the differences between employer and worker, according to the Nashville Post. The case in question stemmed from an employee who filed a suit two minutes before a Department of Labor workers’ comp specialist documented an impasse between the parties. Despite the difference in the time stamped on the two documents, the chancery court allowed the case to go forward based on plaintiff’s attorneys affidavits that the suit was filed after they received a copy of the state’s report. The high court said that was not sufficient and called on the legislature to address “the undignified spectacle of literally racing to secure perceived procedural advantages” in workers’ comp cases, and while doing so to also "resolve the issue of nonsynchronous clocks.”

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Federalist Society Hosts Labor Seminar

The Memphis Lawyers' Chapter of the Federalist Society will present a luncheon seminar on "Union Organizing Made Easier: The Obama NLRB" on Thursday, July 26, from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at The Madison Hotel. The speaker will be Raymond J. LaJeunesse, vice president and legal director at the National Right to Work Legal Defense Fund. The cost is $25 for society members and $30 for non-members. To register contact Greg Grisham at (901) 462-2616 or gregory.grisham@jacksonlewis.com.

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'Forced' Retirement May Bring Discrimination Case Against UT

Knoxville lawyer David Burkhalter has asked the University of Tennessee to preserve all documents and e-mails concerning Associate Athletics Director for Media Relations Debby Jennings as she considers a possible discrimination/retaliation action. Jennings says she was forced to retire last week when the university's men's and women's athletic departments were combined. Jennings has worked with the Lady Vols and Pat Summitt for 35 years. WBIR reports

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Workers' Comp Changes Likely on Horizon

Tennessee companies could see a reduction in workers' compensation premiums later this year according to The Tennessean, depending on the outcome of complex negotiations over the rates doctors receive for treating workers' comp patients. Several business groups support the measure, saying that an overall rate reduction would help make Tennessee more competitive with neighboring states, but many in the health care community say cuts would hurt medical providers and even force some of them to stop treating patients. Gov. Bill Haslam chose not to tackle workers' compensation reform this year, but is exploring major changes. Many observers expect this will be a major issue for the legislature in 2013.

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Facebook 'Like' Doesn't Equal Speech

While public employees are allowed to speak as citizens on matters of public concern, U.S. District Judge Raymond Jackson ruled that clicking Facebook's “like” button did not amount to expressive speech. In other words, it’s not the same as actually writing out a message and posting it on the site. The meaning of the word "like" in this context played a part in this Virginia case involving six people who say Sheriff B.J. Roberts fired them for supporting an opponent in his 2009 re-election bid, which he won. The workers who had "liked" the sheriff's opponent, sued, saying their First Amendment rights were violated. Jackson dismissed the workers' claims, granting summary judgment to Roberts. The First Amendment Center has this AP story

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New Non-Compete, Trade Secret Blog Launched

The Nashville law firm of Burr & Forman LLP has launched a new blog dedicated to non-compete and trade secret laws. See a list of blogs from Tennessee attorneys and others in all practice areas on the TBA website. If you or your firm authors a blog that is not listed please send the link to tbatoday@tnbar.org.

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House Panel Votes Down 'Guns in Trunks' Bill

A House committee voted Tuesday to kill a guns measure that has pitted firearms advocates against business groups. The bill, backed by the National Rifle Association, allows anyone with a handgun carry permit to store loaded guns in vehicles parked on company lots — regardless of employers' wishes. The committee voted 15-8 to send the measure to a summer study committee. Advocates of the bill, however, are pushing for a floor vote despite the move. The Tennessean has details

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DONNA CRAWFORD v. DEPARTMENT OF FINANCE AND ADMINISTRATION and STATE OF TENNESSEE CIVIL SERVICE COMMISSION

Corrected and we have a concurring, too

Appellant, a civil service employee with the State of Tennessee, appeals the trial court’s judgment affirming the decision of the Civil Service Commission terminating her employment. The Commission had affirmed the initial order by the Administrative Law Judge, who upheld the decision of the Department of Finance and Administration to terminate Appellant’s employment for the good of the service pursuant to Tennessee Code Annotated Section 8-30-326. Discerning no error, we affirm.

Attorney 1: 

Phillip Duane Barber and Mary Leech, Nashville, Tennessee, for the appellant, Donna Crawford.

Attorney 2: 

Robert E. Cooper, Jr., Attorney General and Reporter; Bill Young, Solicitor General;

and Eugenie B. Whitesell, Senior Counsel, for appellee, Department of Finance and
Administration and State of Tennessee Civil Service Commission.

Judge: 
STAFFORD