Employers need to examine policies, laws in light of Supreme Court same-sex marriage ruling

June 26, 2015 - by: Tammy Binford 2 COMMENTS

The U.S. Supreme Court’s June 26 ruling in favor of same-sex marriage means employers across the country need to take a look at their policies as well as the effect the ruling has on various laws dealing with employment.Pride flag at city hall

The Court’s 5-4 ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges struck down prohibitions on gay marriage in states covered by the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals—Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee. But it has the effect of legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide.

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New Tennessee law allows guns in trunks at work

by Kara E. Shea

A new Tennessee law clearing up two years of confusion related to whether employers can enforce no-weapons policies goes into effect July 1. Gun-rights advocates have prevailed.

The new law prohibits employers from firing employees for complying with Tennessee’s “guns in trunks” statute, which was passed in 2013. That law states that gun owners with handgun carry permits may bring firearms onto their employer’s property so long as they keep the guns locked in their vehicle out of “ordinary observation.”

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Appeals court keeps hold on Obama’s immigration orders

May 27, 2015 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

No quick resolution is in sight to the uncertainty surrounding President Barack Obama’s executive actions on immigration. On May 26, a three-judge panel of the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals refused to lift a temporary hold on Obama’s actions, which were designed to ease deportation worries for millions of undocumented immigrants who have been in the United States for years.

“Employers will have to wait possibly months, or years, for the courts or Congress to resolve the status of undocumented immigrants who would have been eligible for work permits under President Obama’s executive action,” said Elaine C. Young, an attorney with the Kirton McConkie law firm in Salt Lake City and an editor of Utah Employment Law Letter.

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New Tennessee law allows workers to sue if fired for having guns in cars

April 09, 2015 - by: Tammy Binford 1 COMMENTS

Tennessee employees have a new option for suing their employer now that Governor Bill Haslam has signed a bill enabling workers to sue if they are fired for storing guns in cars parked in their employer’s parking lot.

A 2013 law gave employees with handgun carry permits the right to store firearms and/or ammunition in vehicles in company parking lots even if the employer objects. The law passed despite opposition from the Tennessee Chamber of Commerce and employers wanting to enforce no-weapons policies in their workplaces.

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New circuit ruling complicates same-sex marriage issue

November 07, 2014 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

The issue of how employers should handle same-sex marriage got a bit murkier November 6 as a divided appeals court panel broke with rulings from four other U.S. circuit courts of appeals by upholding state bans on same-sex marriage.

A three-judge panel from the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals issued the 2-1 decision, which allows bans on same-sex marriage in four states to stand. The court’s decision—affecting Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee—differs from other jurisdictions that have recently struck down similar state bans.

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UAW trying different approach to unionize Volkswagen plant

July 11, 2014 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

Despite two failed attempts to unionize the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, the United Auto Workers (UAW) on July 10 announced the creation of Local 42, a local that Chattanooga VW workers can join voluntarily.

“We’ve had ongoing discussions with Volkswagen and have arrived at a consensus with the company,” Gary Casteel, the UAW’s secretary-treasurer, said in a statement about the union’s latest move. “Upon Local 42 signing up a meaningful portion of Volkswagen’s Chattanooga workforce, we’re confident the company will recognize Local 42 by dealing with it as a members’ union that represents those employees who join the local. As part of this consensus, the UAW is committed to continuing its joint efforts with Volkswagen to ensure the company’s expansion and growth in Chattanooga.”

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New Tennessee wrongful discharge law favorable to employers

by David Johnson

A new Tennessee law going into effect on July 1 puts a cap on damages employees can collect in wrongful termination claims.

Public Chapter 995 affects the Tennessee Human Rights Act (THRA), the Tennessee Public Protection Act (TPPA), and the Tennessee Disability Act (TDA). The new law imposes a cap on compensatory damages aggrieved employees can recover under all three statutes for future monetary losses, emotional pain and suffering, inconvenience, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, and other nonmonetary losses.

The caps depend on the number of employees an employer has. The caps range from $25,000 for employers with eight to 15 employees to $300,000 for employers with more than 500 employees. The caps don’t apply to back pay, interest on back pay, front pay, or equitable relief.

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Puerto Rico may implement first far-reaching antibullying law

June 06, 2014 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

by Tammy Binford

Puerto Rico employers may soon be required to take steps to prevent workplace bullying. The territory’s legislature passedshutterstock_163151582 Senate Bill 501, an antibullying measure, on June 3. If the bill is signed by Governor Alejandro Garcia Padilla, Puerto Rico will become the first U.S. jurisdiction to pass a comprehensive law against workplace bullying.

The bill would cover public and private employers and would require them to implement policies to prevent and investigate bullying. The measure also would require employers to impose appropriate sanctions when necessary, according to a Google translation of the bill from Spanish to English.

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Tennessee legislation will amend THRA, TPPA

by David L. Johnson

On May 13, the Tennessee General Assembly passed House Bill 1954/Senate Bill 2126, which will significantly amend the Tennessee Human Rights Act (THRA) and the Tennessee Public Protection Act (TPPA) in a manner favorable to employers. Governor Bill Haslam is expected to sign the bill later this month. Once signed, it will take effect on July 1, 2014.

The legislation imposes a cap on compensatory damages an aggrieved employee may recover for future pecuniary losses, emotional pain, suffering, inconvenience, mental anguish, loss of enjoyment of life, and other nonpecuniary losses under both the THRA and the TPPA.

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UAW plans to take fight over VW vote to Congress

April 22, 2014 - by: Tammy Binford 0 COMMENTS

The United Auto Workers (UAW) union has dropped its appeal of a union vote at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee, but instead of giving up, the union says it will turn its attention toward Congress.

The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) had scheduled an April 21 hearing in Chattanooga on the appeal of a February union election in which workers at the plant rejected unionization 712-626. Just an hour before the hearing was to begin, the UAW announced it was dropping its appeal. A UAW statement claimed the “NLRB’s historically dysfunctional and complex process” led it to drop the appeal.

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