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Press Releases

Required Workplace Compliance Posters Available Free from State

Press release from the Tennessee Department of Labor & Workforce Development; Sept. 1, 2014:

NASHVILLE – The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development and Secretary of State Tre Hargett want employers to know that required workplace posters are available at no charge from the State of Tennessee at www.tn.gov/labor-wfd.

Employers may have received misleading notices in the mail advising them to update employment posters that are required by law to post. These notices frequently have “labor law compliance alert” or “final notice for compliance” or a similar heading, and then offer to sell the required set of posters. We have recently become aware of an entity called “US Compliance Service” that has circulated a potentially misleading solicitation related to employment posters.

“It’s unfortunate that employers intending to do the right thing by posting laws and regulations in the workplace are taken advantage of,” said Labor Commissioner Burns Phillips. “Once a sale has been made, inevitably there are frequent updates to follow at a significant price. We hope to educate the public that these required postings are always free from state government.”

Secretary Hargett agreed, stating that “the overwhelming majority of people who run businesses in our state want to do the right thing and follow the law. But they need to be aware that there are people out there who might try to take advantage of them.”

Several years ago, the Tennessee Attorney General’s office reached an agreement with a company that was deceptively selling labor law posters in Tennessee. Mandatory Poster Agency, Inc., was headquartered in Michigan, but did business in Tennessee as the Tennessee Labor Law Poster Service and the Tennessee Mandatory Poster Agency. The Attorney General’s office alleged that solicitations by the company were deceptive because they appeared to be from a governmental agency and appeared to be from a business located in Tennessee with “an official looking” seal. Businesses that purchased posters from this company were eligible for restitution if they filed a complaint.

All required posters are available free from the following Internet address: http://www.tn.gov/labor-wfd. Directly below the state poster listings is a link to the required federal (U.S. Department of Labor) posters, which can also be downloaded free.

The Department of Labor and Workforce Development has also developed an all-in-one poster containing all of the state requirements. That poster is also free and can be received by sending a request to ron.hammontree@tn.gov.

If you hear that a company is pressuring employers to buy posters, please obtain as much identifying information as possible and e-mail Melinda.williams@tn.gov or call (615) 253-6674.

Categories
Business and Economy Liberty and Justice News

‘English-on-the-Job’ Bill Advances

Legislation that would allow employers to require that their employees speak English in the workplace passed a House subcommittee on Wednesday, but not without some back-and-forth between the bill’s sponsor and the Tennessee state government’s human rights overseer.

The bill would shield Tennessee businesses from some discrimination lawsuits. It is designed to serve the interests of “business necessity and safe workplace environment,” according to the chief sponsor, Rep. Matthew Hill, R-Jonesborough.

But Tennessee Human Rights Commission Executive Director Beverly Watts initially spoke against the legislation, in part because she said her agency doesn’t have funding to deal with the possible fallout from the bill.

“We believe that it will increase our workload,” she said. “Right now we’re about 2,000 calls above what we were last year. And this bill will also create some language requirements that we cannot necessarily fulfill with our current staff. We have staff (members) that are bilingual in Spanish only, but there are many, many more languages.”

Watts also said training employers about the proposed law would be another additional cost for the agency.

The big snag, however, was Watts’ opposition to the portion of the bill that read, “it shall not be unlawful” for English to be required to be spoken in the workplace. But an employer could only make it a requirement if speaking English is a safety factor or if it is necessary for doing business. “If you read ‘it is not unlawful,’ I might just look at it and decide, ‘I can do this,’ whatever ‘this’ may be, and not look at the controlling parameters,” she said.

“To determine if it is unlawful or not, in my opinion, would require us to do an investigation because (a case) cannot on its face be determined to be discriminatory or non-discriminatory just by viewing it,” Watts said. “There might be some additional factors that need to be looked at.”

“So, when it’s written this way, I think it’s broader than if it is says, ‘it’s allowable,’” Watts continued. “In essence, we want employers to know what they can do.”

Watts’ concerns drew an impatient response from Rep. Hill.

“There was a representative or a member from the Human Rights Commission at every single meeting that we had,” he said. “She still has not talked to me about the legislation directly this year, and, of course, at the last second, she comes and opposes this legislation.”

Subcommittee Chairman Mike McDonald, D-Portland, then suggested Hill and Watts get together to discuss their differences. Hill initially refused.

“We’ve had enough meetings,” Hill said. “I have met with every single person about a half a dozen times now and I’m really tired of being hijacked at the last second on something as important as this piece of legislation.”

“We can play ‘what if’ scenarios all day long with the director’s previous comments,” he continued. “The bottom line is ‘it might do this; it could do that’ and (Fiscal Review Committee Executive Director Jim White) and his fiscal staff said it would not.”

Watts said she had not been in town for the meetings, and she maintained that representatives from the Human Rights Commission who did attend never agreed to the language of the bill.

After Hill and Watts huddled while the subcommittee handled other legislation, Hill agreed to an amendment that changed the words “it shall not be unlawful” to “it shall be an allowable employment practice.”

The bill now heads to the Consumer and Employee Affairs Committee, which meets Wednesday at 8:30 a.m.