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2 Employee Laws Your Business Needs to Know

“Stay Away From My Password!”

A new Tennessee law, the Employee Online Privacy Act of 2014 (“the Act”), becomes effective in 2015 and prevents employers from requesting or requiring employees or applicants to divulge their personal account usernames and passwords. The Act includes a detailed list of actions employers are prohibited from taking, including:

1) demanding an employee or applicant to add the employer to the contacts list associated with the applicant’s or employee’s personal internet account;

2) compelling the employee or applicant to access the account so that the employer may examine the contents of the account;

3) taking adverse action against an employee or applicant because of failure to disclose personal internet account information.

Yet, as with almost all things, there are some circumstances that allow exceptions.  For example, an employer is not prohibited from requesting or requiring an employee to divulge the username or password to a device that is paid for by the employer, or from forcing an employee to cooperate in an investigation when the employer has specific information about an unauthorized transfer of the employer’s proprietary information, confidential information, or financial data to an employee’s personal internet account.

The Act provides a civil cause of action to any individual who is the subject of a violation of the Act.  Employers who violate the Act may be liable for up to one thousand dollars ($1,000) in damages for each violation against the individual, plus reasonable attorney fees and court costs. 

Telecommuting as a Reasonable Accommodation

In a recent 2-1 decision, the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals (which covers Tennessee) indicated that precedent regarding regular attendance as an essential function of most jobs has become dated.  The Court wrote, “the world has changed since the foundational opinions regarding physical presence in the workplace were issued: teleconferencing technologies that most people could not have conceived of in the 1990s are now commonplace.”

In this EEOC suit brought on behalf of a former company manager with irritable bowel syndrome who was fired allegedly for poor performance after her request to telecommute was denied, the lower court ruled that the EEOC could not show that the proposed accommodation would allow the manager to carry out the essential functions of the job.  However, the Sixth Circuit reversed, finding that technological means of attendance could allow the manager to perform her job from home without any undue hardship on the employer. 

So, advances in technology mean that telecommunication may be a reasonable accommodation for disability-related attendance issues under the Americans with Disabilities Act

Jeff Weintraub
Regional Managing Partner
Fisher & Phillips LLP
Posted: 6/25/2014 11:16:43 AM | with 0 comments

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Your business may be small, but that doesn't mean that your impact can't be huge! The Greater Memphis Chamber's Small Business Council serves to encourage, support, recognize and be a resource to small- and medium-sized businesses in the Memphis area. Here, our talented panel of contributors will present big ideas that could make a huge difference to your small business. And don't be afraid to ask questions ... no matter how small.

Sales & Small Business Ownership
Voss W. Graham is CEO and Senior Business Advisor for InnerActive Consulting Group Inc. He is known by his clients as "a knowledgeable partner who helps our team achieve business growth." He provides practical experience as a small business owner for over 29 years, yet is often engaged with Fortune 500 companies in the development of their people and business strategies.

Public Relations
Several professionals and strategists from the local Obsidian Public Relations firm provide excellent advice on everything from research to media relations to event planning. They believe that all companies, no matter how big or small the company or its budget, should have a public relations plan driving how they manage their relationships with key stakeholders. Public relations is an integral part of doing business the right way.

Human Resources
Joel Myers is a career Human Resources professional, with over 40 years in the field including 26 years in consulting.

Small Business Advice
Tom Pease is a small business owner of an office equipment dealership called e/Doc Systems, Inc. He has also owned a full-line Kawasaki dealership as well as a document shop. He used 30+ years of experience in owning a business to author two books, including: Going Out of Business by Design: Why 70% of Small Businesses Fail and Small Business Survival 101. He also has published 85 columns in The Memphis Daily News as the Small Business Advisor.

Marketing & Public Relations
Lori Turner-Wilson is CEO and Founder of RedRover Company, a sales development, marketing and PR consulting firm. Lori works with companies large and small, from start-ups to mature organizations, to help them improve the productivity of their sales force and the return on their marketing investment. Lori writes a weekly syndicated column for the Daily News, Memphis News, Nashville Ledger, and Desoto Times, among others, titled “Guerrilla Sales & Marketing,” for which she won a 2011 Summit International Award and 2012 International Communicator Award.

Design and Digital Strategy
Founded in 1999, inferno provides brand development, advertising, public relations, design and digital marketing services to clients across a broad spectrum of industries. Headquartered in Memphis with a satellite office in Kalamazoo, Michigan, the award-winning firm produces results-driven work by passionately combining strategic thinking, creativity and culture to ensure the success of its clients. For more information, visit

Labor & Employment Law
Fisher Phillips attorneys are ready to help you take a stand: in court, with employees and unions, or with competitors. Fisher Phillips has the experience and resolve to back you up. That's why some of the savviest employers come to the firm to handle their toughest labor and employment cases. The firm has 350 attorneys in 32 offices, including Memphis. For more information, visit

Since its founding in 2005, Paragon Bank has maintained a solid focus on the community and customer service. For more than 10 years, Paragon has delivered innovative products and financial expertise, convenience, and a deep understanding of what both businesses and individuals need from a ban, in order to provide solutions that make a difference. In the areas of business or personal banking, lending options or wealth management, Paragon delivers cutting edge technology, an experienced team and the most service-oriented staff of any community bank.