Labor & Employment

Positive human relationships and interactions drive business success. To help advance this paradigm, we advise clients on labor and employment matters from a perspective that connects their dynamic labor and human resources needs with affirmative strategies. We partner with clients to provide creative, innovative and practical solutions to business problems that have legal ramifications. We seek to strike the balance between firmness and fairness, between a client’s operational needs to be efficient and cultural demands to be accommodating. In doing so, we strive to solve problems before they escalate to litigation or administrative proceedings, while also positioning our clients for the best defense.

What Employers Need to Think About During the Coronavirus OutbreakOur clients include union and non-union companies as well as public and private employers ranging from Fortune 500 companies to small locally-owned businesses. We represent a wide variety of industries, including healthcare, manufacturing, retail, distribution, utilities, communication, transportation, service, retail food sales and education.

Our counsel in labor and employment matters can be divided into three broad categories:

  • Employment counseling, training and auditing.
  • Employment litigation.
  • Traditional labor law.

Chambers USA consistently recognizes Bass, Berry & Sims as one of the top labor & employment law firms in Tennessee. In the latest edition of Chambers, a source said, “Efficiency and reasonableness of billings are of paramount importance, and Bass, Berry & Sims is best in class when it comes to these areas.” (from Chambers USA 2020) In its 2018 edition, Chambers featured the following feedback from client interviews: “They are very responsive and clearly have institutional expertise in labor and employment matters,” and “They have the deepest resources and they’re quality lawyers.” (from Chambers USA 2018) An earlier issue of Chambers described the team as “very thorough and provid[ing] a Rolls-Royce quality of work.” (from Chambers USA 2015)

Areas of Focus

  • Employment Counseling, Training & Auditing

    Our model focuses on day-to-day counseling that builds deep relationships such that clients call us prior to taking action that may lead to litigation. We stand ready to advise on compliance with employment related law and regulations on both the federal and state level. We also provide in-office counseling and training to human resource managers, front line managers and supervisors on preventing and resolving issues before they become lawsuits.

    Our counseling and training programs cover a wide breadth of employment related matters, including but not limited to:

    • Effective management and a general understanding of unlawful discrimination and retaliation issues.
    • Leave issues including Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA).
    • ADA accommodation issues.
    • Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA).
    • Sexual harassment.
    • Wage and hour.
    • Reductions in force.
    • Privacy.
    • Union avoidance.
    • Social media.
    • Investigations.

    We also have a dynamic audit practice, which, if desired, allows a client to be proactive in identifying potential problems and resolving them before they become crises. These services include:

    • Performing of wage and hour audits.
    • Formulating, reviewing and revising employee handbooks and the policies and procedures within them.
    • Conducting investigations or coaching clients through investigations on an as needed basis.
  • Employment Litigation

    We understand that defending employment litigation is expensive and time consuming for every client. We also understand that clients adopt different philosophies regarding how to respond to employment litigation. For every client, regardless of philosophy, our approach is the same – understanding the exposure as early as possible, developing the best defense possible, being ever mindful of the cost associated with the defense and providing our clients an ongoing opportunity to assess the best approach for the business along the way.

    While we are aggressive litigators, we know that reaching the best outcomes for our clients involves skillful negotiation and efforts to avert expensive litigation through early assessment. Our approach is to resolve disputes in a way that protects culture while minimizing costs. Most often, this leads to settlement outside of court; however, if litigation is unavoidable, we provide our clients with the very best defense based upon a strategic response that is grounded in a thorough understanding of the applicable law and able to adapt as circumstances change (as they often do) during the course of litigation.

    Our employment attorneys litigate cases throughout the U.S., either with assistance of local counsel, or with the assistance of our own attorneys who are licensed in the particular jurisdiction. In the past five years, we have handled employment lawsuits and unfair labor practice proceedings in 28 states.

    We are regularly involved in claims of:

    • Unlawful discrimination under federal and state law.
    • Retaliatory discharge issues under federal and state law.
    • Wrongful discharge.
    • Interference with the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA) and other statutory rights.
    • Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) matters relating to complaints, investigations and fines.
    • Wage and hour non-compliance.
    • Breach or enforcement of non-compete agreements.
    • Tortious interference with contracts.
    • Defamation.
    • Breach of fair representation.
    • I-9 non-compliance.
    • Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA) litigation.
  • Traditional Labor

    We counsel clients on employee relations strategies aimed at fostering a positive work environment and avoiding union organization. We provide advice and training on best practices to achieve this goal, but also are experienced in respectfully and lawfully counteracting union activities throughout the country, including proceedings before the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB).

    For clients whose employees are represented by unions, we handle all aspects of contract negotiation and interpretation. We advise clients on key strategies for union avoidance, in handling responses to union organizational campaigns, and in the negotiation and interpretation of any resulting collective bargaining agreements. We also represent employers in responding to grievances, in handling arbitration hearings, and in unfair labor practice proceedings and other matters before the NLRB.

    Our services include:

    • Union avoidance training and informational campaigns.
    • Collective bargaining agreement negotiations.
    • Labor arbitrations.
    • Contract negotiation, interpretation and administration.
    • Grievance procedures.
    • Defense of unfair labor practice charges.
    • Strike guidance.
    • Decertification campaigns.
  • We are representing a multinational food products corporation in connection with their upcoming contract negotiation, including conducting a thorough review of their CBA and advising on complications relating to leaves of absence.

    We are representing a multinational food products corporation in connection with their upcoming contract negotiation, including conducting a thorough review...
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    Client Type: Private Company
  • We represented a ready mix concrete company with facilities across 12 states in defending unfair labor practice charges filed with the NLRB. Two employees, separately and at different times, quit coming to work and claimed to be “on strike” due to alleged unsafe work conditions and substandard wages.

    We represented a ready mix concrete company with facilities across 12 states in defending unfair labor practice charges filed with...
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    Client Type: Private Company
  • Representation of a global automotive supplier in an unfair labor practice charge filed by a former employee who alleged that he was discharged in retaliation for engaging in protected concerted activities after he drafted a petition and approached his coworkers for their signatures while they were on the clock and in company work areas.

    We represented a global automotive supplier in an unfair labor practice charge filed by a former employee who alleged that...
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    Client Type: Private Company
  • Representation of a national operator of hospitals and health systems in the negotiation of amendments to approximately 1,200 employment agreements for physicians as a result of the revised calculation of worked Relative Value Units (wRVUs) set forth by the Medicare Physician Fee Schedule Final Rule for Calendar Year 2021 (the Final Rule) issued by the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS).

    We represented a national operator of hospitals and health systems in the negotiation of amendments to approximately 1,200 employment agreements...
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    Client Type: Private Company
  • Representation of a subsidiary of a publicly traded company with respect to a complaint by the Director of Risk and Compliance that he had been retaliated against by the president of the company as a result of his participation in an investigation of anonymous allegations regarding the company’s President and the COO.

    We represented a subsidiary of a publicly traded company with respect to a complaint by the Director of Risk and...
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    Client Type: Public Company
  • Representation of a pain management company in retaliatory discharge claims that stemmed from a False Claims Act (FCA) qui tam lawsuit alleging fraudulent billing for medically-directed services.

    We represented a pain management company in retaliatory discharge claims that stemmed from a False Claims Act (FCA) qui tam...
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    Client Type: Private Company
  • Representation of a leading post-acute care provider in a hybrid wage and hour class and collective action under FRCP 23 and the FLSA brought by a group of former employees alleging that they were misclassified as exempt and entitled to overtime compensation for hours worked in excess of 40 hours each week.

    We represented a leading post-acute care provider in a hybrid wage and hour class and collective action under FRCP 23...
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    Client Type: Private Company
  • We represented Tractor Supply Company (Nasdaq: TSCO) in their agreement to acquire Orscheln Farm and Home, a family-owned farm and ranch retailer.

    We represented Tractor Supply Company (Nasdaq: TSCO), the largest rural lifestyle retailer in the United States, in their agreement to...
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    Client Type: Public Company
  • Representation of nationwide hospital system in an on-site investigation relating to a series of anonymous complaints that a contracted physician had engaged in the routine sexual harassment of hospital staff and that he was practicing outside the scope of his credentials.

    We represented a nationwide hospital system in an on-site investigation relating to a series of anonymous complaints that a contracted...
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    Client Type: Public Company
  • Representation of medical treatment center in a two-month investigation into multiple complaints of a hostile work environment resulting from the conduct of a member of the company’s executive leadership

    We represented a medical treatment center in a two-month investigation into multiple complaints of a hostile work environment resulting from...
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    Client Type: Private Company
Audrey J. Anderson
Counsel
Ginette R. Brown
Attorney
Lymari Martinez Cromwell
Member
Davidson French
Member
Tim K. Garrett
Member
Robert W. Horton
Member
Ashley Robinson Li
Attorney
Laura M. Mallory
Associate
Timothy B. McConnell
Member
Mary Leigh Pirtle
Member
Kimberly S. Veirs
Associate

As developments related to COVID-19 continue to unfold, Bass, Berry & Sims’ labor & employment attorneys are closely monitoring updates from government agencies and other organizations, and interpreting their impact on employers.  To help you stay informed, we have developed the below resource center to serve as a centralized location for legislative updates and guidance addressing many of the common questions employers currently face.

If you have any questions regarding the information below, please contact any of our labor & employment attorneys. Our team is closely monitoring the government’s response to this developing situation and will update with further guidance as it unfolds.  To access government guidance affecting employers, visit the Government Issued Guidance section of our COVID-19 Response page.

COVID-19 News & Insights for Employers COVID-19 Employment Webinar Recordings
OSHA Guidance: Protecting Healthcare Workers from COVID-19 EEOC Update: Employers Can Offer Vaccine Incentives to Workers

For more news and updates related to this pandemic, please visit the Bass, Berry & Sims COVID-19 Response and CARES Act resource pages. On these pages you will find links to the guidance we feel is most relevant to our clients, as well as our own timely alerts related to these topics.