Tennessee Legal Blog

Mass torts: Facebook targets birthday messages

For decades, consumers have complained about junk mail, beginning with the flyers and mailers through the post office, and now with spam emails and text messages. Fortunately, laws such as the Telephone Consumer Protection Act (TCPA) and robotexting laws regulate the amount and kinds of contact solicitors and others can make with consumers. However, these laws do not always stop some companies from accosting people in Tennessee with unwanted communications, which may lead to mass torts claims.

Facebook has dealt with numerous lawsuits in the past and is currently embroiled in new class action litigation. The recent case involves the text messages the company apparently sends to users announcing the birthdays of Facebook friends. Some of those who receive the messages feel the company sends them to increase revenue, but by using auto-dialers to contact users, Facebook may be violating the TCPA.

Misclassified skilled workers bring wage and hour disputes

Because certain jobs require more training or education, those who are hired for those jobs may expect to get higher pay than those in other positions. Work that demands more skill or incurs potential danger may be worth more money to a business owner or manager. However, some employers may try to take advantage of a laborer by incorrectly classifying him or her to avoid paying a fair wage. When these wage and hour disputes arise, Tennessee workers may seek legal assistance to get what is rightfully theirs.

At a construction site in another state, a worker was employed as a carpenter at $14 an hour. The man had previously worked as a carpenter for nine years and should have been offered the prevailing wage of $56 an hour. A few months later, the carpenter requested a more appropriate wage and was given an hourly wage of $46.

GE faces allegations of ERISA violations

General Electric Corporation, one of the largest Fortune 500 companies in the world, is also one of the most profitable. The conglomerate employs hundreds of thousands in Tennessee and all 50 states, not to mention internationally. Some of those employees are not very happy with the way GE has handled their retirement fund investments. In fact, GE is facing a lawsuit claiming the company violated federal ERISA regulations.

The Employee Retirement Security Act protects workers from fiduciaries who mismanage or fraudulently handle their retirement plans. Companies who offer retirement plans are required to set and meet minimum standards, such as making sensible investments, for ensuring their fiduciaries manage the investments in good faith. However, three plaintiffs in the GE case say the company's retirement savings plan breached that duty. Thirty other defendants are included in a proposed class action, but 250,000 may be affected.

Mass torts multiply as consumers learn of Equifax breach

By now, most people know to keep their credit card information, Social Security numbers and other personal information as private as possible to avoid cyberthieves getting hold of them. Countless consumers in Tennessee and across the world can attest to the nightmare of having to recover from identity theft and other unlawful activity that happens when someone obtains their confidential information. However, recent news from Equifax has millions across the country wondering if they are about to be living one of those nightmares, and many have already joined mass torts claims against Equifax.

Hackers were able to breach the security systems in place to protect consumers whose vital information was held by Equifax. The credit bureau is one of three used by lenders for determining the creditworthiness of loan applicants. Equifax computers hold credit card numbers, birth dates, addresses and Social Security numbers -- all of which easily provide hackers with ammunition to destroy the credit of 143 million consumers. Many of those frustrated and angry consumers have reached out to attorneys for information about holding Equifax responsible for the potentially damaging breach.

Jessica Biel's restaurant accused of wage and hour disputes

It is not uncommon for Hollywood actors to branch out into other fields, such as music or theater. Now and then, an actor tries an industry far removed from the arts, such as running a restaurant. Restaurant ownership is not always what celebrities expect, and when wage and hour disputes erupt, actors may find their reputations on the line. Tennessee fans may recognize one actress who is currently embroiled in such a lawsuit after employees at her elite restaurant complained of wage theft.

Jessica Biel's trendy restaurant, Au Fudge, attracts A-list celebrities with children by offering paparazzi-free dining and elegant cocktails. However, the restaurant business is not being kind to the actress, and her renowned chef walked off the job before the doors even opened for business. The most crushing blow is likely the lawsuit nine workers recently filed, claiming numerous labor violations.

Gig work leads to wage and hour disputes

The gig economy is growing in Tennessee and across the country. Employers benefit from having contract workers who do not require insurance or other benefits. Gig workers gain the flexibility of the freelance life. However, more frequently, the gig economy is leading to wage and hour disputes as the definition of gig work become fuzzy.

While many working as freelancers understand their role as gig workers, some -- for example, those driving for Uber -- feel the companies they work for have intentionally misclassified them. By claiming workers are contractors, companies are relieved of providing unemployment or workers' compensation, as well as other benefits. Currently, there are millions of dollars in the balance as dozens of misclassification lawsuits make their way through the courts.

Nation's top colleges face claims of ERISA violations

Investors in retirement plans place a great deal of trust in those responsible for managing the plans. After all, reaching retirement age only to find the funds have been mismanaged allows few options for recovery. Recently, numerous prestigious colleges across the country, including in Tennessee, have come under fire for the way their retirement plans are being handled, and class action lawsuits are growing, claiming violations of ERISA laws.

Participants claim the retirement funds established by these colleges violate the Employee Retirement Income Security Act by providing too many options for investors to choose from. Some plans offer more than 100 possibilities, and participants say this is confusing and overwhelming. It also apparently creates higher fees since options cannot be easily consolidated at a lower cost.

Lawsuit filed for defective eclipse glasses

The nationwide solar eclipse last month was a once in a lifetime event for many. It had been 38 years since the last total eclipse in the country and 99 years since an eclipse had been visible across the continental US. While there are no Nielsen ratings for the sky, polls leading to the event suggested that half of the US population would watch it live.

Staring at the sun, of course, is very bad for the eyes. A solar eclipse is even more severe, with the potential for retina burns and permanent damage. As manufacturers and retailers rushed to sell enough special eclipse-viewing glasses, many knockoff or poor quality products were sold under the guise of protection.

Mass torts claim that baby powder caused ovarian cancer

Johnson & Johnson's baby powder has been around since the 1890s. Many people here in Tennessee and elsewhere use it on their babies' bottoms to keep them dry, and many women use it on themselves for the same reason. This widely used product has recently become the subject of numerous mass torts that claim this product, which is commonly used in numerous households, can cause ovarian cancer.

Some scientists are not ready to say that the talcum powder version of the company's baby powder and Shower-to-Shower products is directly linked to ovarian cancer. Others, however, believe there is a clear link between the two. In fact, one doctor says that a woman's risk of contracting ovarian cancer increases approximately 33 percent with regular use of talcum powder.

Nurses file wage and hour disputes for unpaid meal breaks

The work of a Tennessee nurse is often exhausting. Nurses spend many hours on their feet and may work long shifts with demanding responsibilities. When a nurse has the opportunity to take a break, that time is likely precious and well-deserved. However, recently some nurses in another state have revealed that the hospitals where they work are not granting them the breaks they deserve. The wage and hour disputes between the nurses and their employers may gain class action status.

Nurses from numerous hospitals allege that their weekly hours include an automatic deduction of 30 minutes for a daily meal break. However, the nurses contend they are forced to take those unpaid breaks with their phones in case they are needed by patients or others on the medical staff. If a need arises, the nurses are expected to respond even if they are taking their meals.

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