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Wrapping up the year and preparing for next......


Read this Message from the President of SHRM-Memphis....Click Here


Professional Development Spotlight

SHRM-Memphis recertification special! Click here for details...


Fisher Phillips Legal Seminar

Dec. 13, 2018
7:30 a.m - 4:30 p.m.
The University of Memphis Holiday Inn Fogelman Center 
3700 Central Avenue
Memphis, TN 38111
Please join the attorneys of the Fisher Phillips Memphis office for our annual labor & employment law seminar designed to provide timely information on hot topics in employment law. We will provide practical solutions to some of the most important issues employers, HR professionals, and In-House Counsel are facing in today’s ever-changing workplace environment.  Our morning will consist of end of year to-do lists and the afternoon will be broken into an HR Track with Active Shooter Training and an In-House Counsel Track, followed by a cocktail reception.
Topics will include
How to…
    • Conduct an Internal Wage & Hour Audit
    • Create an Effective Drug Testing Policy
    • Avoid Discrimination in the Hiring Process
    • Prevent Bullying & Workplace Harassment
In-House Counsel Ethics Track
    • Preserving the Privilege in Internal Investigations
    • Grisham on Grisham: Legal Ethics Meets the Movies
HR Track
    • Active Shooter Training with Officer Terry Donald, Shelby County Office of Preparedness
    • I-9 Compliance: What You Don’t Know Can Hurt You
    • What to Do When Terminating a Violent Employee

7:30 a.m. – 8:15 a.m. 
Registration and Continental Breakfast
8:15 a.m. – 12:00 p.m.
General Session Programming

12:00 p.m. - 1:00 p.m.
1:00 p.m. – 3:30 p.m.
HR and In-House Counsel Tracks
3:30 p.m. – 4:30 p.m.
Cocktail Reception 
1 attendee = $95/each 
2 or more attendees from the same company = $70/each (Savings of $25/each person)
Questions? Contact Abby Tasman at 502.561.3995 or atasman@fisherphillips.com
**This program is approved for 5.75 HRCI/ SHRM Preferred credits and 6.5 hours of TN Continuing Legal Education Credit, including 2.5 hours of Ethics credits.


A note from our Legal friends...

Keeping Your Employees Healthy and Safe During the Holidays

By J. Gregory Grisham


            In keeping with tradition, most employers (65%) plan to hold some type of Holiday party for employees this year according to the “2018 Holiday Party Study” (“Study”) conducted by Challenger, Gray & Christmas. Notwithstanding the strong economy, 27% of companies reported that they never hold holiday parties (the highest number since the Study began in 2004) and 8% reported they are not holding a party this year. While many factors can impact a decision on whether to hold a holiday party, concerns about potential liability, including sexual harassment, religious discrimination/accommodation, and tort/workers’ compensation liability can be determinative.  


            Sexual Harassment  

        The #MeToo movement has led to greater public awareness of sexual harassment as evidenced by the 12% increase in sexual harassment charges filed with the EEOC in fiscal year 2018. Holiday parties should be a time for employees and managers to socialize in a more relaxed setting to celebrate the season and year’s accomplishments. Unfortunately, holiday parties, particularly where alcohol is served, can increase the risk of inappropriate comments and unwanted touching. It is not surprising the study reported that among companies holding a holiday party this year, 58% said sexual assault and harassment concerns had already been addressed with employees in 2018 and 33% said these concerns would be addressed before the party.


          Religious Discrimination/Accommodation 


         In addition to sexual harassment concerns, Employers should be mindful of potential religious discrimination/accommodation issues that can be implicated during the Holidays. For example, a number of religious groups that identify as Christian do not celebrate or emphasize Christmas, such as the Religious Society of Friends (“Quakers”), the Churches of Christ, and Jehovah's Witnesses. Non-Christian Faith Groups such as Muslims do not celebrate Christmas while members of the Jewish Faith celebrate Hanukkah. Therefore. Company Holiday parties may create a religious conflict for some employees who don’t recognize or celebrate Christmas or Hanukkah.


            Tort Liability and Workers’ Compensation 


            Companies should also be mindful of potential liability for workers’ compensation and injury to third parties that can grow out of company holiday parties. For example, while the Tennessee Workers’ Compensation Act generally requires no compensation for an injury or death due to “[t]he employee's voluntary participation in recreational, social, athletic or exercise activities, including, but not limited to, athletic events, competitions, parties, picnics, or exercise programs, whether or not the employer pays some or all of the costs of the activities” there are exceptions such as where participation is “expressly or impliedly required by the employer.” Some courts and juries have found employers vicariously liable for injuries caused by employees who became intoxicated at a company holiday party.


                     Some Best Practices for Holiday Parties 

         Despite the risks associated with company holiday parties, employers can take steps to minimize the risks. For example, consider having luncheons at the office with no alcohol served, since events later in the day or evening combined with the serving of alcohol increase the risk of inappropriate behavior. If the holiday party is held during work time make sure that non-exempt employees are paid for their time spent attending unless attendance is 100% voluntary and the event is strictly for the benefit of employees. Also consider inviting employee spouses or significant others to the holiday party since their presence decreases the likelihood of flirtatious or other boundary crossing behavior.

Unless you are a religious organization avoid calling your holiday celebration a “Christmas” party and consider using non-religious décor and secular seasonal music. Communicate to employees prior to the holiday party that company policies apply to such events, including the sexual harassment policy. Make clear in oral and written communications that attendance at the holiday party is voluntary and ensure that no employee is disciplined or penalized for not attending.

If a decision is made to serve alcohol at the gathering consider using drink tickets (no sharing and no more than 1 or 2 per employee), do not have an open bar, avoid making hard liquor available (wine and beer only) and offer non-alcoholic drink options. Also make taxis or Uber/Lyft services available to attendees and have designated drivers ready as a back-up. Finally, have designated managers stationed by the door to identify employees who are intoxicated to ensure they do not get behind the wheel.

Company holiday parties can be a fun way to reward employees, improve morale and celebrate the season. With careful planning employers can minimize the risks associated with holiday parties and help their employees have a healthy and safe holiday season.


Greg Grisham is an Attorney in the Memphis Office of Fisher & Phillips, LLP. He has more than 25 years of successful experience representing and counseling employers in all aspects of labor and employment law.  ggrisham@fisherphillips.com  (901) 526-0431.




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