Nashville Legal Blog

Court rules in favor of employees in overtime case

Tennessee workers may be entitled to overtime pay under the terms of the Fair Labor Standards Act thanks to a federal court ruling. The ruling was made by the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals in the case of Tom Hughes and Desmond McDonald v. Gulf Interstate Field Services Inc. It involved two welders who each made more than $100,000 per year while working for Gulf Interstate in 2013 and 2014.

According to the FLSA, employees may be exempt from overtime if they are in bona fide executive or professional capacities. Gulf Interstate argued that the plaintiffs met that criteria in this case. The two men in the lawsuit worked as inspectors on a welding project in Ohio during their time with the company. In the court's ruling, the men acknowledged that they were paid in a way that could have made them exempt.

Transgender woman sues employer for harassment and retaliation

Transgender people in Tennessee might relate to the workplace experiences of a Sam's Club employee suing the company for wrongful termination. Court filings for the person, who now lives as a woman, detailed her story of harassment within a hostile workplace.

She started her job in 2004, and her employer appeared to value her contributions and even granted a promotion. In 2008, however, her increasingly female appearance, which included long hair and makeup, provoked co-workers to mistreat her. According to court filings, co-workers and her direct supervisor called her "thing" or "it," and they felt free to target her with obscene jokes. Her employer was not sympathetic to her complaints.

FLSA misclassification can impact high-salary employees

Workers in Tennessee could be missing out on significant income that they are owed if they are not receiving appropriate overtime, even if they already earn a high wage. One December 2017 U.S. Circuit Court ruling overturned a lower court to hold that two welding inspectors, each of whom earned over $100,000 each year, could be entitled to overtime pay under the provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act.

The Fair Labor Standards Act requires payment of overtime for employees who work more than 40 hours in one week. This is the case for all non-exempt employees, for which the provisions of the FLSA apply. Other employees can be considered "exempt" under the FLSA, which means that they do not have to receive overtime if they work in an executive, administrative or professional capacity. Thus, many office workers do not receive overtime due to the nature of their jobs. Misclassification of employees as exempt is a frequent subject of concern, as it can be used to avoid paying significant amounts of overtime.

What to do if you have an accident with your child in the car

Having a car accident is bad enough, but having one while your child is in the car is even worse. Would you know what to do first after a car accident that involved your little one? Of course, the most important thing you can do is not panic. If you allow panic to take over, you will not be able to sufficiently help yourself or your child.

By knowing the first steps you should take after a car accident that involves your child, you will be prepared in case you find yourself in such a position.

Someone else driving distracted could cause you serious injury

Most people understand that drunk drivers pose a major threat to other people on the road. While many people are aware of how dangerous distracted driving can be, far too many people fail to take this public safety threat seriously enough. Even reading or sending one text could result in a crash that causes serious injuries or even kills someone else.

According to the Tennessee Highway Safety Office, sending one text message that takes five second to type while traveling at 55 miles per hour is basically like driving the length of an entire football field without looking at the road.

Study looks at workplace gender discrimination

Female employees in Tennessee and around the country may be more likely than their male counterparts to experience gender discrimination in the workplace according to a study by the Pew Research Center. The study found that 42 percent of women reported gender discrimination at work compared to 22 percent of men.

The most commonly given example of gender discrimination was being paid less for the same job, reported by one-quarter of women. Only 5 percent of men reported the same experience. Nearly as high a percentage of women said they had been treated as though they were not competent. Gender discrimination can sometimes be subtle as demonstrated by the fact that 16 percent said there had been "small slights" in the workplace that happened over and over.

Online tech enabling increased attention on sexual harassment

The ease of online conversations could be increasing media attention on sexual harassment. Employees in Tennessee and elsewhere have experienced this mistreatment for decades, but they often had to deal with the issue in isolation. One workplace consultant said that the internet has connected victims and allowed them to draw attention to the problem.

Online connectivity has allowed women from multiple generations to describe their experiences. With so many people breaking their silence, the problem of sexual harassment has been revealed to a greater extent than ever before.

Sexual harassment policies toothless without enforcement

Many companies in Tennessee mean well when they develop sexual harassment policies, but enforcement makes the difference in the lives of employees. An attorney and university instructor said that managers must take responsibility for ensuring that employees follow the rules.

He added that consistent application of the rules against sexual harassment mattered. When evidence supported allegations, companies needed to impose consequences on offenders. All employees needed to be aware of those consequences as well. Disclosing the outcome of enforcement actions would communicate to employees that the sexual harassment policy actually mattered.

Addressing the problem of workplace sexual harassment

The news in Tennessee and around the country has been filled with reports of powerful figures who have allegedly engaged in sexual harassment. These reports beg the question of how prevalent sexual harassment in the workplace truly is. Regardless of how frequently it might occur, it is against federal law.

Employers should recognize that for every report of sexual harassment that is made, there are likely many other incidents that have occurred and that have not been reported. Employers should not think that sexual harassment could never happen in their workplaces. Instead, they should take proactive steps to prevent it from happening and to promptly address it when it does.

Transgender woman awarded $1.1 million in discrimination case

Tennessee residents might be interested in learning that a transgender professor has won a $1.1 million verdict award for gender discrimination. The professor was hired by Southeastern Oklahoma State University in 2004 in a tenure-track position as an assistant English professor while she was still presenting as a man.

The professor began transitioning to female in 2007 and notified the university that she would be presenting as a woman during the coming school year. She was told by a staff person in the human resources department that the university's vice president for academic affairs was offended by transgender people because of his religious beliefs.

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