The Free Lunch – Tennessee and Federal Wage and Hour Requirements


Ever heard the saying, “there is no such thing as a free lunch?” If you are an employer covered by the Tennessee Prevailing Wage Act, there better be free lunches . . . well, free from work at least. Although the Fair Labor Standards Act, the federal law governing wage and hour requirements in the workplace, does not require employers to grant breaks during the workday (except as it pertains to minors and lactation breaks), where such rest or meal periods are provided, certain obligations arise. For instance, under the FLSA, any break offered to employees that lasts five (5) to twenty (20) minutes is considered compensable time. However, bona fide meal breaks, that is, meal breaks lasting at least thirty (30) minutes, may go unpaid, so long as the employee is completely relieved from duty. If an employee performs any work during his or her bona fide meal break, […]

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Updating Employee Handbook? Don’t Forget GINA!


Open your Employee Handbook. You have a policy prohibiting discrimination and workplace harassment, yes? If not, contact me immediately. Your handbook prohibits discrimination on the basis of age, sex, race, national origin, religion, and disability, yes? If not, seriously, give me a call. What about prohibitions against discrimination on the basis of genetic information? No? Your policy is in need of an update. Almost five (5) years ago, the Genetic Information Nondiscrimination Act (“GINA”) went into effect, yet, it is still a relative unknown to many employers. GINA protects employees from discrimination based on his or her genetic information, including information about an individual’s genetic tests or that of his or her family members. This protection applies to private employers with 15 or more employees, as well as state and local government officials.  As with Title VII, employees have a private right of action for discrimination under GINA once they have exhausted […]

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“Employee Background Checks – What Constitutes Discrimination?”


New years are for resolutions – at home and at work.  One of my resolutions is to continue focusing on an aspect of my job that I love  – advising employers on methods for avoiding costly litigation. I am cognizant of the fact that my clients want to operate efficient, profitable businesses. The foundation of a successful business is effective and legal employment practices. On January 15, 2015, I am giving an teleconference seminar entitled “Employee Background Checks – What Constitutes Discrimination?” for the National Business Institute.  There was never a better time than now to brush up on business obligations in relation to background checks. In 2014, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Federal Trade Commission released a joint initiative to combat workplace discrimination as a result of background checks. During my seminar on January 15th, I will instruct employers on methods for avoiding discrimination landmines (and subsequent expensive litigation) when conducting […]

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U.S. Supreme Court Examines Pregnancy Discrimination Act


  Last week, the United States Supreme Court heard oral arguments in Young v. United Parcel Service, one of the more high-profile employment discrimination cases before the Court this term. Former employee of UPS, Young, sued the delivery company for allegedly discriminating against her in violation of the Pregnancy Discrimination Act (“PDA”).  The issue before the Court – whether the PDA requires employers to offer pregnant employees the same workplace accommodations that the employer offers to non-pregnant employees with the same work restrictions. The facts of the case are simple – Ms. Young was unexpectedly terminated when she was expecting. Young had delivered packages for UPS for about four years when she became pregnant.  UPS requested that she provide a doctor’s note regarding her ability to work. Young’s physician thereafter recommended that she not lift more than twenty (20) pounds while pregnant.  Thereafter, UPS placed Young on unpaid leave on the basis that its drivers […]

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Tis the Season: Holiday Pay and Holiday Leave


According to the Society for Human Resource Management, about ninety-nine percent of all employers will give their employees the gift of holiday leave. Of this ninety-nine percent of employers, those individuals employed by the state will not only enjoy a day off from work, but also, will be compensated for the time spent away from the office or trimming the tree.  Private employers, however, are not required by state or federal law to compensate their employees for holiday leave. The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development expressly provides that private employers are not required to offer fringe benefits, such as holiday pay, to employees.  Similarly, the Fair Labor Standards Act (“FLSA”), which regulates employee compensation practices on a national level, does not require non-exempt employees to receive paid holiday leave.  Thus, whether to give the gift of paid holiday leave is left to the private employer’s discretion.  So long […]

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