In Our Judgement: In Law & In Life

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In Our Judgment

The official Frantz, McConnell, and Seymour, LLP blog.

Providing insight on developments in labor and employment law affecting East Tennessee employers and employees.


Not too long ago a client manager and I were reviewing workplace policies relating to employee use of the employer's computer system. Employers often have a number of policies or handbook statements on this topic ranging from protection of the employer's confidential information, to prohibitions on sexual and other forms of unlawful harassment.

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Basing Hiring Decisions on an Applicant’s Workers Compensation History

The Tennessee Supreme Court very recently issued a decision addressing whether an employer that refuses to hire a job applicant because of her past workers’ compensation claims with another employer violates the Tennessee workers compensation statutes and can be sued for "retaliatory failure to hire."

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Most private sector employees in Tennessee are classified as “employees at will.”  That means the employment relationship can be terminated by either the employer or employee at any time, without notice and for any reason that is not illegal or against public policy (i.e., not involving race, gender, disability or age discrimination, etc.).  Thus, absent some contractual provision to the contrary, employees classified as “at will” can walk out at any time and bear no legal responsibility for losses sustained by their employer as a result of their sudden absence.

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The US Department of Labor Provides More Warning of Crackdown on Worker Misclassification

Earlier this year I posted regarding an expanding collaboration between various state and federal agencies to combat misclassification of employees as independent contractors. This effort is being spearheaded by the US Department of Labor, which reports receiving numerous complaints of misclassification for the purposes of avoiding minimum wage and overtime compensation requirements, unemployment insurance and workers compensation coverage. Very recently, the Department of Labor's Wage and Hour Division Administrator issued an "Administrator's Interpretation" providing guidance on the factors to be analyzed when determining whether a worker should be classified as an employee or independent contractor for purposes of federal minimum wage and overtime laws and the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA).

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OSHA Announces New Enforcement Emphasis on Healthcare Industry

On June 25, 2015 the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) issued a memorandum to its regional and state enforcement offices announcing a new inspection emphasis for inpatient healthcare providers such as hospitals and residential care facilities.  The impetus for this initiative is the significantly higher rates of workplace injuries in these employment settings attributable to several identified causes, including musculoskeletal injuries, slips, trips and falls and workplace violence.

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