Workplace Safety: OSHA Recommendations for Black Friday


Black Friday.  I use to avoid it like the plague.  Then, my cousins started to request items like trampolines and PlayStations.  A dutiful niece, I began to stand in line until the wee hours of the morning, holding onto my sanity with one hand and a life-size Barbie Dreamhouse with the other. Speaking from personal experience, Black Friday can be terrifying. Massive crowds and super savings often result in chaos and potential injury to customers.  But, safety risks are not limited to the bargain shoppers. Businesses too face challenges to ensure that their employees are kept safe during holiday shopping.  To assist employers in this process, last week, the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration provided advice to retail employers, urging them to implement safety measures to prevent workplace injuries on Black Friday.   As explained by David Michaels, Assistant Secretary of Labor of OSHA: “During the hectic […]

Continue Reading

Don’t Be Fooled – The NLRA Applies to Non-Union Workplaces


It is a common misconception that the National Labor Relations Act (“NLRA”) does not apply to businesses that lack union involvement. In fact, an employee does not have to be in a union to be protected by the NLRA; employees at union and non-union workplaces have the right to share information amongst the workforce and seek to improve their working conditions.  Specifically, the NLRA provides employees with the right to form or join unions and engage in protected, concerted activities to address and improve working conditions.  A “protected concerted activity” is an endeavor that involves two or more employees taking action for the mutual aid or protection of a group regarding the terms and conditions of their employment.  For example, if two employees communicate on Facebook regarding their assigned wages, they are engaged in a “protected, concerted activity.”  An employees’ activities are not “concerted,” however, if the action is undertaken […]

Continue Reading

Indecent Proposal In the Workplace


At least once per week, I remind clients that Tennessee is an employment at-will state.  “An employee may be fired for a good reason, a bad reason, or no reason at all,” I remind Mr. or Ms. So and So.  In other words, your employer can terminate you for a really bad, but not unlawful reason.  Similarly, an employee may quit his or her job, without advance notice or explanation. Recently, a good example of the “employment at-will” principle arose in connection with an employment discrimination case out of Florida. Michael Richardson worked at Bay District Schools in The Sunshine State for many years under the direct supervision of Jimmy Thompson. Jimmy was, well, a creep. He had a thing for Richardson’s wife and continually tried to solicit sex from her through promises made to her husband.  Among other explicit requests, Jimmy offered money to Richardson if he could convince his wife […]

Continue Reading

SUMMARY JUDGMENT GRANTED TO FIRM CLIENT IN LAWSUIT INVOLVING CLAIMS OF RACIAL, SEXUAL, RELIGIOUS HARASSMENT AND RETALIATION


The United States District Court for the Eastern District of Tennessee granted summary judgment on all discrimination, harassment and retaliation claims asserted against a Thompson Burton client in the staffing industry. The case demonstrates that regardless of how harmless an employer might view conduct complained of by an employee or how bizarre an employer might view the employee’s complaints, if an employer responds appropriately to address the complaints it stands a decent chance of having the lawsuit dismissed. The Court’s ruling can be read in its entirety here. In this case, the Plaintiff alleged an assortment of inappropriate conduct by her manager, which Plaintiff argued created a hostile working environment in an office with only 3 employees, all of which are female. The conduct complained of by Plaintiff included: Discussion of undergarment preferences in office Lifting of a shirt to show a particular type of bra worn by supervisor, where […]

Continue Reading

Why Complete and Accurate Job Descriptions are Important under the ADA


Wayne Henschel was employed as an excavator operator for a county road commission when he was seriously injured in a non-work related motorcycle accident.  Ultimately, his leg had to be amputated above the knee.  As you might imagine, he missed a great deal of time from work.  While Mr. Henschel was off work his employer advertised for and filled his position until he could return to work. After recovering from his injuries, Mr. Henschel asked to return to work as an excavator operator.  Before being allowed to do so, Mr. Henschel underwent a fitness for duty examination, in which his ability to perform the essential job functions was evaluated. The excavator operated by Mr. Henschel was delivered to work sites via a trailer that was pulled by a manual transmission semi-truck.  While Mr. Henschel was cleared to return to work, he could only operate an automatic transmission vehicle. Because he […]

Continue Reading