Tennessee Legal Blog

New rule won't prevent future need for mass torts claims

It is no secret that asbestos is a dangerous and toxic substance. Exposure to it may cause diseases like mesothelioma, lung cancer and asbestosis, all of which can be fatal. Despite these dangers, asbestos is still used in certain products in the United States. This means that victims in Tennessee and across the rest of the country are still being exposed to asbestos, and some choose to pursue compensation for their injuries through mass torts claims.

According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, there was a loophole in an old law that made it impossible for the agency to restrict sales of specific asbestos products. The EPA decided to pass a new rule to close the loophole, which went through in April 2019. However, critics of the new rule claim that the EPA could have done more to protect Americans, and should have banned the substance altogether.

Could you and your co-workers file a mass tort over mesothelioma?

As a naturally occurring mineral substance, asbestos has long been popular with manufacturers, in part, because it is so easy to obtain through mining. Unfortunately, while there are many industrial uses for asbestos, including insulation and fireproofing, handling asbestos often proves dangerous if not fatal for workers.

People in a range of occupations can end up interacting with this potentially dangerous substance at work. Asbestos exposure has long been connected with the development of mesothelioma, a particularly aggressive cancer that attacks the lining of the organs. Many times, workplace environmental exposure to asbestos directly leads to the development of mesothelioma several decades later.

Wage and hour violations can dramatically affect workers

Not getting paid can cause a number of problems for workers. In some cases, a slight hiccup with payroll may result in missing compensation or a late paycheck, but in other instances, employers may fail to properly pay their workers consistently. Not only can this cause unnecessary hardship for workers, but it can also violate wage and hour law.

Tennessee readers may be interested in penalties recently leveled against the owners and operators of five nursing homes in another state for such violations. According to reports, the workers at the facilities obtained their pay late for two pay periods in a row, and some had their paychecks bounce when they tried to cash them. As a result of the improper compensation, many of the employees left the facilities, and the operations at the nursing homes became unsafe for the patients, according to the director.

Wage and hour disputes: should interns work for free?

People who do a job for an employer deserve fair pay for what they have done. However, there are many people who apply for internship positions in exchange for experience, mentoring and future opportunities, not necessarily a paycheck. There are times when an internship should really be a paying job, however, and this could potentially lead to wage and hour disputes in the future. 

Some wonder if unpaid internships are even legal. Many of the people who take internships, such as college students looking to start their careers in the near future, do so knowing they won't get paid. However, there are Tennessee companies that may take advantage of the prospect of free labor, and others may be breaking labor laws with their internship programs and not even know it.

Federal law protects breaks for breastfeeding mothers

Having a child is a momentous occasion in a woman's life. Many women here in Tennessee and elsewhere decide to breastfeed their newborns, which can become a complex process once they return to work. Expressing breast milk can become a frustrating and contentious process when an employer fails to provide breaks to breastfeeding mothers.

The first thing these mothers need to know is that the federal Fair Labor Standards Act protects mothers who wish to express milk while at work. If an employer denies a woman this right and/or fails to provide the appropriate setting in which to do so, the company could be in violation of the FLSA. In order to be in violation of the act, the employer must have at least 50 employees and the ability to accommodate breastfeeding mothers without it causing an undue hardship.

Gig workers and continued wage and hour disputes

The rights and fair pay of people employed as gig workers has been in the spotlight the last few months. There has been significant debate about whether people who work in the gig economy are true employees or if they should be paid as independent contractors. This ongoing debate as led to protests, heated discussions and continued wage and hour disputes.

The rise in the number of gig employees in Tennessee and throughout the United States is a result of the changing economy. More people get goods and services through people who work as gig employees, and most of them are employed as independent contractors. This means that they do not have a rightful claim to minimum wage or overtime pay. Many people who advocate for workers' rights want to change how these workers are typically classified, but most employers feel differently.

How can homeopathic drugs cause harm?

When you go to the store for medication, including natural supplements, you expect that you will get what you are supposed to. Unfortunately, there are many stories about people who purchase supplements and later find out that they didn't get what they paid for. In a recent lawsuit brought against Walmart, an allegation of fake medicine was made, but this one wasn't based on the ingredients in the products.

The claim notes that Walmart is putting homeopathic medications next to mainstream over-the-counter medications. The lawsuit claims that the marketing and sale of these medicines betrays customers. In response, Walmart noted that they want to be a trusted retailer and that they work to ensure they meet the requirements of the law.

Wage disputes can stem from violations of the law

Most Tennessee residents work with the intention of making money. Certainly, money may not be the only goal or purpose of their work, but it is undoubtedly an outcome that they anticipate and need. As a result, when employers violate the law and fail to properly compensate workers, it is not uncommon for wage disputes to arise.

Unfortunately, it can often fall to the employee who has been wronged to address wage theft. If an employer has not paid minimum wage, did not provide overtime wages to qualifying workers, did not pay workers at all or carried out other violations, employees may find themselves in the position of having to file formal complaints. If multiple workers have been affected, they may all want to band together to discuss the issue with their employer.

Wage and hour disputes: The rights of Uber employees

Employee classifications are important for many reasons. A Tennessee reader's specific classification determines whether he or she is eligible for certain things, such as overtime pay and a standard minimum wage. Uber, the popular rideshare company, has been dealing with wage and hour disputes with its drivers over whether they are employees of independent contractors. 

Many Uber drivers state they are employees, which would allow them to claim certain benefits. However, a recent ruling from the National Labor Relations Board determined they are, in fact, independent contractors. This ruling settles this dispute, but the rideshare company still has certain hurdles to overcome regarding how it deals with employees. 

Mass torts claim against major drug manufacturer

The companies that manufacture drugs have the responsibility of ensuring that the products they release to the public are safe for consumption. When companies fail in their obligation to consumers, injured individuals or those who suffered harm due to defective products have the right to seek compensation through a civil claim. One prominent drug maker is facing mass torts litigation that users say caused them significant harm.

Johnson & Johnson has already faced legal troubles for illnesses and complications related to their baby powder products and baby shampoo. The company is also about to face additional legal woes for alleged harm associated with a fentanyl patch also manufactured by the company. This case may be of particular interest for Tennessee readers who may have also used this product. 

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