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Employment law: what is a 'reasonable accommodation'?

As readers of this blog may remember, last week we discussed what constitutes a disability for purposes of the Americans with Disabilities Act. If a worker in Tennessee or elsewhere in the United States meets this definition, his or her employer has to provide the worker with reasonable accommodations that allow the worker to do their job despite their disability.

Some general reasonable accommodations include installing wheelchair ramps, special equipment or changing the worker's duties under their job description so the worker can do their job. Permitting the worker to take unpaid time off for medical purposes, or allowing the worker to use vacation time when he or she needs time off for medical reasons are also examples of reasonable accommodations.

ADA protects disabled workers in Tennessee from discrimination

It used to be the case that disabled workers in Tennessee and nationwide had no protection against workplace discrimination. However, in 1990 the federal government enacted the Americans with Disabilities Act. This act is very important to employee rights across the nation, as it prohibits workplace discrimination based on a person's disability. Moreover, it mandates that employers provide disabled employees with "reasonable accommodations" so they can do their jobs.

If an employer has 15 or more workers for at least 20 weeks, it is subject to the ADA. Under the ADA employers are prohibited from engaging in disability discrimination when hiring employees, training employees, promoting employees, paying employees or firing employees. This means that disabled workers cannot be classified differently in a manner that limits their job opportunities more than those of non-disabled workers.

Protecting yourself when blowing the whistle

It is both disheartening and overwhelming when a Tennessee employee learns that his or her employer is participating in wrongdoing and breaking the law. If you find yourself in this situation, you may not know what to do, where to turn or how to protect yourself, but there are options available to you. As a whistleblower, you have certain rights and options. 

If you learned your employer is defrauding the government, and you want to do something about it, it is prudent to go ahead and take the appropriate steps to shield yourself and obtain a full understanding of your rights. You have the right to file a lawsuit called a qui tam lawsuit, which helps the government recover what was lost to fraud. As the person who filed the lawsuit, you have a claim to a certain portion of what the government recovers.

Does business litigation in Tennessee always have to go to trial?

Business owners in Tennessee know that part of doing business is dealing with the inevitable ups and downs in the business world. Sometimes business is good. Demand for their goods or services is up, you're getting new clients or customers and the employees are happy. Other times, suppliers, manufacturers or builders fail to hold up their end of a contract or there is an issue with an employee that is not getting resolved. When this happens, it may lead to business litigation.

Most employers wish they could avoid business litigation all together. Litigation costs the business time and money that they'd rather spend running the business. However, not every dispute necessarily goes through the entire trial process. Sometimes the parties to the lawsuit are able to resolve their issues using a type of alternative dispute resolution process: arbitration.

Appraisals waived for some residential real estate borrowers

Jackson residents may be interested to hear that government mortgage lenders Freddie Mac and Fannie Mae have both issued statements that they will no longer require appraisals on some of the mortgages they back. This will save buyers who qualify for this waiver money and streamline the residential real estate closing process.

Back in December 2016, Fannie Mae began a program in which "property inspections" on as many as 10 percent of refinance loans would not need an appraisal. On June 19, 2017 Freddie Mac did the same. For loans that qualify, automated valuation models will be used instead of in-person appraisals. Borrowers, if they choose, still have the option to get an in-person appraisal. However, this is not a requirement if they qualify for the new waiver program.

Zoning laws may restrict residential real estate development

Whether a person is building a home, a manufacturing plant, a store or are looking to start a farm, they will need to make sure that they are in the correct "zone" in which to complete their project. This is because cities have different parcels of land reserved for different uses. This is known as zoning. Through zoning comes better city planning with fewer conflicts.

One type of zoning is residential zoning. This designates where people can build residential real estate, such as single-family homes, apartment or condominium complexes, trailer parks and other types of housing. What kind of animals are permissible in a person's residence also usually falls under zoning laws. For example, a residential zone may allow dogs and cats as pets, but not livestock such as pigs or chickens. Residential zoning can also place limits on the types of home-based businesses that are permissible.

Residential real estate market sees fewer homes for sale

Potential homebuyers: does it look like there isn't as much selection of existing homes for sale as you were anticipating? It's not your imagination. Tennessee residents may be surprised to hear that the number of existing homes for sale in the residential real estate market has reached a low that hasn't been seen in two decades. Why? According to one survey it is because "Baby Boomers" are neither selling their homes to downsize after their kids fly the nest, nor are they selling their homes in order to purchase a bigger one. In fact, of those surveyed, 59 percent reported that they had no plans to sell their home within the next 12 months.

Across the country, in June the market had a 4.3-month supply of houses. In June 2016, that number sat at 4.6 percent. This reduction in available homes for sale raises home prices. According to one resource, the national home price index is at a record high at 5.6 percent.

Distracted truckers are a serious threat to your safety

Trucks are big, heavy and quite capable of causing serious damage when involved in accidents with smaller, lighter vehicles. Regular passenger vehicles and large trucks don't mix, and when they collide, debilitating injuries or even death can occur. Sadly, many Tennessee truck accidents are preventable.

Like drivers of other types of vehicles, truckers are susceptible to distraction. In fact, distraction is a major problem for the trucking industry, and it plays a significant role in a large number of accidents involving semitrailers. Distraction for truckers involves a number of behaviors, and not all of them relate to phone use.

What is eminent domain and can it be challenged?

Cities in Tennessee are ever-growing, and as they look to expand roads, install sewers and electrical lines and perform other tasks essential to the proper growth of a city, it may be necessary for them to acquire property owned by private citizens. This right of the government is known as "eminent domain."

It may seem unfair that the government can take private land, but this right is not absolute. First of all, it can only be exercised for public purposes. In addition, if the government must take private property, it must provide the property owner with fair compensation.

An overview of probate in Tennessee

Like many other Tennessee residents who have lost loved ones, you may be surprised at how much there is to do after the death of your family member. Planning the funeral, obtaining a death certificate and coordinating a cremation or burial can feel like daunting and insurmountable tasks as you attempt to process your grief.

However, you somehow get through those tasks only to realize that there is still more to do. Your family member's estate may need to go through probate. You may not know what that entails, which only makes it seem even more complex and intimidating.

Contact us today to learn more about how we can help you resolve your legal situation.

To discuss your specific situation and to learn more about how we can help, call us at 731-300-1592 or submit an inquiry via our online contact form.

Spragins, Barnett & Cobb, PLC
312 East Lafayette
Jackson, TN 38301

Phone: 731-300-1592
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