News

More Damages Ordered to Trooper Wrongly Labeled Terrorist

A federal appeals court ordered U.S. District Judge Tena Campbell to consider "a more appropriate damages award" for a former trooper with the Knoxville branch of Tennessee Highway Patrol, who was fired after a military liaison falsely labeled him a budding terrorist. De'Ossie Dingus, a Sunni Muslim, was denied his attorney’s request for $300,000 in damages; Campbell denied that request primarily because Dingus did not seek counseling. She symbolically awarded him $1. Dingus had won a separate hearing that awarded him back pay and lost wages. Read more from the Knoxville News Sentinel

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Don't Miss 20th Annual TBA Labor and Employment Law Section CLE

Join us at the 20th Annual TBA Labor and Employment Law Section CLE, which will address the latest developments in labor and employment law. This CLE will be held on May 6 at the Tennessee Bar Center in Nashville.

Speakers include:

  • United States District Court Judge Pamela Reeves
  • Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Julia Gibbons
  • Debra Lawrence of the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission

Topics include the following:

  • Perspectives from the bench
  • Important new federal cases
  • A primer on the Equal Pay Act
  • Ethics

As a bonus, TBA Labor and Employment Law Section Members receive a section discount for this program and all other CLE sponsored by the Labor and Employment Law Section throughout the year. If you know someone who is not a section member, please encourage him or her to join the section and start saving money on CLE programming.

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No WARNing Needed by Vanderbilt

*By Joshua Sudbury and Allison Cotton

In the recent Sixth Circuit case, Morton v. Vanderbilt University, 809 F.3d 294, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals considered Vanderbilt University’s appeal of the Middle District of Tennessee’s decision that it failed to give proper notice to employees during a 2013 mass layoff.

The plaintiffs in Morton consisted of a class of 194 employees who were terminated by Vanderbilt on July 1, 2013. Standing along, the class was insufficient to constitute a “mass layoff,” as defined under WARN.[i] As a result, the Morton plaintiffs sought to invoke the WARN Act’s aggregation provision, which allows separate layoffs to be counted together for purposes of the 500 employee threshold if they occur during a 90-day period.[ii]  The plaintiffs argued the WARN Act applied as a result of 279 other Vanderbilt University employees who were notified on or about Sept. 17, 2013, that their jobs would be eliminated on Nov. 16, 2013.[iii]  The District Court agreed.

On appeal, the Sixth Circuit noted the case presented an unusual situation in that the fate of the Morton plaintiffs rested upon the Court’s determination of Vanderbilt’s handling of its termination of 279 other employees who were not party to the lawsuit and who had not protested their termination.[iv] Between approximately Sept. 17 and 19, 2013, Vanderbilt provided 279 employees with individualized letters notifying them that their positions would be eliminated on or about Nov. 16, 2013 – 60 days following the date of their notification.[v]  The letters specifically stated the employees would “remain employed” but would be placed on a “paid leave” for the 60-day period. The employees were told they should gather their personal belongings and return all Vanderbilt property. They were given career transition counseling, following which, they were to leave the campus. The employees were told not to return to work and that it would be inappropriate to come to their work areas to socialize or visit. The employees remained on Vanderbilt's payroll and received their full pay and benefits on their regular pay dates during the 60-day period. Finally, the employees were free to use the 60–day leave period to seek other employment, and were not required to inform Vanderbilt if they found employment elsewhere during this time. They continued to be paid through the notice period, regardless.

The District Court found the termination occurred on Sept. 19, 2013, when the employees were informed their employment was over, asked to turn in all Vanderbilt property, and asked to leave campus and not return. The District Court found persuasive that the employees were on “paid leave” and could find other employment without losing their full 60 days of benefits from Vanderbilt.

The Sixth Circuit disagreed, finding instead the termination occurred on Nov. 16, 2013, outside the 90-day window provided in the WARN Act’s aggregation clause. Rather than relying on Vanderbilt’s instruction that the employees not return to work, the Sixth Circuit focused on the financial realities of the termination, noting the employees continued to receive their regular salaries, and were unable to receive unemployment benefits under the 60-day period had ended. In so holding the Sixth Circuit panel noted “so long as these employees were being paid and accruing benefits, there had not been a permanent cessation of the employment relationship.”[vi] The Court reasoned the 60-day paid notice period comported with the purpose of the WARN Act, which is to provide workers “some transition time to adjust to the prospective loss of employment, to seek and obtain alternative jobs and, if necessary, to enter skill training or retraining that will allow these workers to successfully compete in the job market.”[vii] The Sixth Circuit further opined that the District Court’s ruling would make it impossible for employers to give notice of termination as required under the Act.[viii]

Plaintiffs argued that the 60-day pay period was “pay in lieu of notice,” which is a violation of the WARN Act, but the Court found notice was properly given, and the pay was in addition to notice.  The Court further found that Vanderbilt was not wrong in spacing out layoffs so that some occur beyond a relevant 90–day period under the WARN Act, and employers are permitted to rely on the WARN Act’s provisions to time their layoffs.

The Morton opinion provides employers within the Sixth Circuit with a helpful guide for structuring the timing and of potential layoffs as well as for planning for giving employees sufficient notice and opportunity to transition to alternative employment. Adhering to the procedures highlighted in the opinion can help covered employers successfully navigate mass layoffs without incurring additional liability.

____________________________

*Josh Sudbury is a senior associate at Ford Harrison in its Nashville office, where he concentrates his practice on representing management in a variety of labor and employment matters. He received his J.D. at University of Memphis School of Law in 2009. Josh may be reached at jsudbury@fordharrison.com or 615-574-6705.

Allison Cotton an associate at Ford Harrison in its Nashville office, where she concentrates her practice on the representation of employers in labor and employment matters.  She received her J.D. from University of Tennessee School of Law in 2010, where she was a Student Materials Editor for the Tennessee Law Review and a Research Editor for Transactions: The Tennessee Journal of Business Law. Allison may be reached at acotton@fordharrison.com



[i] The statute defines “mass layoff” as a reduction in force, which is not the result of a plant closing, that results in an employment loss at a single site of employment during any 30–day period and involves at least 500 full-time employees. 29 U.S.C. § 2101(a)(3).

[ii] 29 U.S.C. § 2102(d). 

[iii] For the purpose of the appeal, the parties stipulated the 500 employee threshold would be met if the Court ruled the group of 279 other employees who got notice on September 17th were terminated on that date. Morton, 809 F.3d at 295 n.1.

[iv] Id. at 295.

[v] Id.

[vi] Morton, 809 F.3d at 296.

[vii] 20 C.F.R. 639.1(a).

[viii] Id.

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NLRB Holds Company Rules Banning Workplace Recording by Employees Violates NLRA

*By J. Gregory Grisham

On Dec. 24, 2015, the NLRB (“Board”), in Whole Foods Market Group Inc., in a 2 to 1 decision, held that two company rules which prohibited workplace recording by employees without prior approval by management were unlawful under the National Labor Relations Act (“Act”).[i]

Background

The Respondent (“Whole Foods”) maintained a General Information Guide (“GIG”) that it issued to employees companywide.[ii] Among the rules contained in the GIG were two rules that restricted workplace recording by employees. The rules were set forth in two sections of the GIG.The first rule under the subheading “Team Meetings” stated:[iii]

In order to encourage open communication, free exchange of ideas, spontaneous and honest dialogue and an atmosphere of trust, Whole Foods Market has adopted the following policy concerning the audio and/or video recording of company meetings:

It is a violation of Whole Foods Market policy to record conversations, phone calls, images or company meetings with any recording device (including but not limited to a cellular telephone, PDA, digital recording device, digital camera, etc.) unless prior approval is received from your Store/Facility Team Leader, Regional President, Global Vice President or a member of the Executive Team, or unless all parties to the conversation give their consent. Violation of this policy will result in corrective action, up to and including discharge. Please note that while many Whole Foods Market locations may have security or surveillance cameras operating in areas where company meetings or conversations are taking place, their purposes are to protect our customers and Team Members and to discourage theft and robbery.

The second rule under the heading “Team Member Recordings” stated:[iv]

It is a violation of Whole Foods Market policy to record conversations with a tape recorder or other recording device (including a cell phone or any electronic device) unless prior approval is received from your store or facility leadership. The purpose of this policy is to eliminate a chilling effect on the expression of views that may exist when one person is concerned that his or her conversation with another is being secretly recorded. This concern can inhibit spontaneous and honest dialogue especially when sensitive or confidential matters are being discussed.

At the hearing before the Administrative Law Judge (“ALJ”), Whole Foods presented testimony from its global vice president for team member services, Mark Ehrnstein, who explained the rules scope and the business purpose for the rules which had been in effect since 2001. Mr. Ehrnstein testified that the rules applied to all types of recording devices, to both employees and managers, and to all areas of every store and store property. Ehrnstein further “testified that an employee on worktime [was] precluded from recording a conversation without prior management approval, regardless of whether the employee [was] engaged in protected concerted activity.”[v] In addition, Ehrnstein set forth the underlying purposes for the no recording rule. One purpose was to prevent employees from being “chilled” in freely expressing their opinions during company meetings, including at the “town hall” meetings held by regional management. Another purpose was to promote free discussion during appeals of termination decisions by employees to a panel of their peers. Finally, Ehrnstein testified that the rule promoted “open dialogue” during meetings at which employees request assistance from the company’s “Team Member Emergency Fund” since such “matters are often confidential, involving financial need, family death, illness or personal crisis.”[vi]

The ALJ ruled that the no recording rule did not violate Section 8(a)(1) of the Act finding that “rule did not explicitly restrict Section 7 activity because it ‘does not prohibit employees from engaging in protected, concerted activities, or speaking about them,’ and because “[m]aking recordings in the workplace is not a protected right.’ The ALJ also noted “that the General Counsel did not allege that [Whole Foods] had promulgated the rule in response to union activity or that the [the company] had applied it to restrict the exercise of employees’ Section 7 rights.” The ALJ “further found that the rule ‘cannot reasonably be read as encompassing Section 7 activity.’”

Board’s Decision

The Board majority disagreed with the ALJ and found that the no recording rule “would reasonably be construed by employees to prohibit Section 7 activity.”[vii] The Board began its analysis by noting that “[p]hotography and audio or video recording in the workplace, as well as the posting of photographs and recordings on social media, are protected by Section 7 if employees are acting in concert for their mutual aid and protection and no overriding employer interest is present.”[viii] The Board cited several examples of protected conduct that involve use of workplace recordings including “recording images of protected picketing, documenting unsafe workplace equipment or hazardous working conditions, and documenting and publicizing discussions about terms and conditions of employment.”[ix] Further, the Board noted that its case precedent had many examples where recordings served as critical evidence in proving violations of the Act. Therefore, the Board reasoned that case law supported “the proposition that photography and audio and video recording at the workplace are protected under certain circumstances.”[x]

Turning to the rules at issue, the Board noted that the rules did not differentiate between workplace recordings protected by Section 7 of the Act and unprotected recordings, but rather prohibited all recording without prior management approval. The Board rejected the argument that the explanation for the rule set forth within the rule cured its overbreadth. Because of the admitted scope of the rules and their “broad and unqualified language, the Board found “that employees would reasonably read the rules as prohibiting recording activity that would be protected by Section 7… and that the rules would reasonably chill employees in the exercise of their Section 7 rights.”[xi] The Board majority concluded its analysis by distinguishing a prior Board decision, Flagstaff Medical Center,[xii] where a no recording rule was upheld based on patient privacy interests and the employer’s obligations to comply with HIPAA.[xiii]

Take Aways

The Board’s decision in Whole Foods is another example of the current Board’s willingness to invalidate longstanding employer work rules that are viewed as potentially posing an obstacle to the exercise of Section 7 rights. After the Board’s decision in Whole Foods, rules placing blanket prohibitions on workplace recording will likely be found to violate the Act outside work environments where statutorily protected privacy interests are found such as in healthcare settings. With the current Board, employers must continue to review handbook rules and policies in light of evolving case law and make modifications where necessary to achieve compliance with the Act.

_________________________

*J. Gregory Grisham is a Partner in the Nashville and Memphis Offices of Ford Harrison, LLP and focuses his practice on the representation of employers in all aspects of labor and employment law. He received his Juris Doctor (with honors) from the University of Memphis, Cecil C. Humphreys School of Law in 1989. Greg may be reached at ggrisham@fordharrison.com or 615-574-6707.


[i] 363 NLRB No. 87, at p. 1 (2015)

[ii] Id.

[iii] Id.

[iv]Id.

[v] Id.

[vi] Id.

[vii] Id. at p. 3.

[viii] Id. citing Rio All-Suites Hotel & Casino, 362 NLRB No. 190, slip op. at 4 (2015).

[ix] 363 NLRB No. 87, at p. 3.

[x] Id.

[xi] Id.

[xii] 357 NLRB No. 65 (2011), enfd. in relevant part,715 F.3d 928 (D.C. Cir. 2013).

[xiii] 363 NLRB No. 87, at p. 4-5.

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Letter from the Editor:

Here’s the latest newsletter from TBA’s Labor and Employment Section. I want to thank this issue's authors for their wonderful articles – Greg Grisham, Josh Sudbury, Allison Cotton, and Charles Baum, II. If you would like to write an article, I have a new email address -bbuchanan@sblimmigration.com, as Yvette and I formed Sebelist Buchanan Law PLLC. You may still contact me at bbuchanan@visalaw.com as I’m “of Counsel” to Siskind Susser.

And don't forget about our upcoming CLE on May 6 with some great speakers.  More information is at the back of this newsletter. 

Bruce Buchanan

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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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Professor Flunks the Test

*By Bruce E. Buchanan

The Office of Chief Administrative Hearing Officer (OCAHO) held, in Chellouf v. Inter American University of Puerto Rico 12 OCAHO No. 1269 (2016), that the university did not retaliate against Linda Chellouf by discharging her from the faculty.

Chellouf’s Years as an Instructor, Assistant Professor and Associate Professor

Chellouf, a French national, holds a Doctor of Musical Arts degree from Eastman School of Music. Chellouf began employment on a temporary appointment as an instructor in the Department of Fine Arts for the academic year 2006-2007. She was eligible for employment under an approved H-1B visa. One year later, Chellouf received a temporary appointment as an assistant professor. This was renewed during the 2008-2009 academic year. In July 2009, she was promoted to a probationary associate professor and received a series of one-year appointments for the academic years of 2009-2010 through 2012-2013.

Labor Certification Process

In 2013, the university began a process of labor certification to retain Chellouf as a permanent resident worker. The university started the required advertising process at that time, including two consecutive Sunday advertisements in the newspaper, El Nuevo Dia. On May 14, 2013, Chellouf sent an email to the university’s attorney expressing her belief that the university was not properly advertising because it did not place an ad in a national professional journal.

On August 1, 2013, the university provided her with another one-year appointment as a probationary associate professor for the 2013-2014 academic year. Chellouf declined to sign it because she had applied for a permanent position and promotion. On August 12, 2013, the university notified her that the evaluation of the sixth year of her tenure track had been approved for the academic year of 2013-2014.

Chellouf’s Termination

Despite not signing the August 1, 2013, contract, Chellouf continued her teaching duties. However, on October 16, 2013, she was notified that the university considered her to have “voluntarily resigned” because she had not signed the August 1 contract. The contract stated it was invalid on its terms after 15 days unsigned. Thus, Chellouf ceased her professor duties and her salary was not paid thereafter. A formal termination letter was signed by the University Chancellor on November 4, 2013, reiterating her employment had been terminated. The university paid Chellouf back wages from October 16 to November 4, 2013, and offered to pay her transportation costs back to France.

OSC Charge and Complaint

On March 10, 2014, Chellouf filed a charge with the Office of Special Counsel for Immigration-related Unfair Employment Practices (OSC) alleging the university violated Department of Labor regulations and discriminated against individuals protected by §1324b by advertising the position in a local paper rather than a national professional journal. OSC gave Chellouf a right-to-sue letter and she filed her complaint with OCAHO on October 7, 2014, alleging she was retaliated against for opposing the university’s recruitment practices for foreign faculty.

Parties’ Arguments and OCAHO’s Decision

The university argued Chellouf did not even make out a prima facie case of retaliation because she did not engage in protected activity. Specifically, her May 14, 2013 email did not allege discrimination, just the accuracy of the labor certification process. Thus, the university argued there is no factual basis of a causal relationship between the email and her termination. Even if Chellouf somehow met her standard, the university asserted the reason for her discharge was Chellouf’s failure to sign the August 1, 2013 employment contract — a legitimate nondiscriminatory reason.

Chellouf asserted she did not abandon her employment and she was terminated for no legitimate reason. But Chellouf did not give a plausible reason for her failure to sign the contract. Rather, Chellouf stated she wanted a permanent tenure-track position but ignored the fact she was not eligible for such at that time. Finally, she returned to her argument about the university’s advertising practices.

OCAHO agreed with the university’s positions – Chellouf had not engaged in protected activity and even if she had, the university offered a legitimate non-discriminatory reason for her discharge. OCAHO referred to Chellouf’s argument as “wishful thinking” but laments there were “no winners in this case” because the university lost a “valued faculty member.”

Takeaways

In order for an employee to be retaliated against, the employee must have engaged in protected activity. A general complaint is insufficient.

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*Bruce E. Buchanan is a founding partner at the Nashville and Atlanta offices of Sebelist Buchanan Law PLLC. He is also “Of Counsel” to Siskind Susser PC on employer immigration compliance matters. Bruce is a graduate of Vanderbilt University School of Law. He is editor of this newsletter and past-chair of the TBA’s Immigration Law Section. Bruce writes a blog on employer immigration compliance and is a contributor to LawLogix’s I-9 and E-Verify Blog. He may be reached at bbuchanan@sblimmigration.com or (615) 345-0266.

__________________________

*This article was originally published earlier last month on my blog on employer immigration compliance.

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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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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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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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