COVID-19 Risk Awareness: Addressing Workplace Water Systems as Employers Restart Operations

An unintended workplace health threat resulting from the fight against COVID-19 could be lurking in an employer’s water system—Legionella, the bacteria that causes Legionnaires’ disease. As state and local governments begin lifting safe-at-home orders, employers and building owners will be restarting operations and reopening buildings (or parts of buildings) that may have been unoccupied for weeks. Many such operations include water supply systems that have also been shut down during the business closings. These dormant water systems and devices can lead to an increased exposure to Legionella for several reasons, including a lack of water circulation and a temporary cessation of water treatment and water quality monitoring programs. In anticipation of the large number of workplaces and other buildings that will be reopening in the near future, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recently updated its guidance for reducing Legionella risks in building water systems.

Tennessee Amends Anti-Bullying Statute to Extend Protection From Infliction of Mental Anguish Claims to Private Employers

On April 23, 2019, Governor Bill Lee signed a bill that extends protection from some legal claims associated with workplace bullying to all Tennessee employers. Employers that adopt an anti-bullying policy that conforms to the law will be immune from lawsuits alleging intentional or negligent infliction of mental anguish due to the abusive conduct of employees.

Tennessee Gives Employers Option to Allow Limited Carrying of Concealed Firearms at Work

Tennessee property owners, including employers, are generally authorized to prohibit the possession of weapons by any person at meetings conducted by an employer or on property owned, operated, managed, or under the control of an employer. Tennessee has adopted very specific requirements for how employers and other property owners must notify employees and visitors when they seek to prohibit firearms on their properties.

OSHA Settlement May Point Direction on Injury Reporting Policies

Earlier this year, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) signaled an intention to take employers to task for maintaining policies that required employees to immediately report workplace injuries and accidents or face discipline. OSHA considers such policies to be retaliatory and a violation of section 11(c) of the Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Act.

Tennessee Poised to Prohibit Employers From Disciplining Employees With Firearms in Vehicles

On March 23, 2015, the Tennessee General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to end confusion surrounding Tennessee’s “Guns in Trunks” law. Tennessee has historically allowed property owners to prohibit firearms anywhere on their property—making it a crime for even a person with a valid handgun carry permit to carry a firearm on property the owner has posted as prohibiting firearms.