Tag: municipal law alert – august 2011

Tenured Teacher Hearings

August 24th, 2011   •   Comments Off on Tenured Teacher Hearings   

As part of Tennessee First to the Top Act of 2010, significant changes were made to the way hearings on tenured teacher disciplinary issues are held. Although a teacher still retains the right to request a hearing after discipline has been issued, the way the hearing is conducted has changed. Previously, a tenured teacher could request a hearing to the board. Now the teacher has 30 days to request a full and complete hearing before an impartial hearing officer selected by the board. This means that boards of education must now select an individual to conduct the hearing who 1) has no history of employment with the board or director of schools, 2) has no relationship with any board member; and 3) no relationship with the teacher or the teacher’s representatives. The legislation also contains specific guidance as to how the pre-hearing and hearing process should occur. For non-tenured teachers, an impartial hearing officer is also required although with less strictures on the hearing process. In light of this new legislation, boards need to review their policies to ensure that they are in compliance. Boards should also consider pre-approving a panel of impartial hearing officers to be used so that board approval is not required for every teacher disciplinary matter. The attorneys at Rainey, Kizer are also available to assist as impartial hearing officers when the need arises.

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Equal Access to Intrastate Commerce Act

August 24th, 2011   •   Comments Off on Equal Access to Intrastate Commerce Act   

The state legislature has recently imposed limitations on the authority of cities and counties to adopt their own ordinances or resolutions extending nondiscrimination requirements to groups not currently protected by state law. Currently, the Tennessee Human Rights Act (“THRA”) prohibits discrimination against individuals based on their “race, creed, color, religion, sex, age or national origin.” With the passage of the Equal Access to Intrastate Commerce Act, cities and counties are now prohibited from extending nondiscrimination protections or requirements beyond the groups currently protected by the THRA. The prohibition does not apply with respect to employees of a local government. The law, effective May 31, 2011, applies retroactively and repeals an ordinance passed by the Nashville and Davidson Metropolitan Council that prohibited companies doing business with the local government from discrimination in employment based on sexual orientation or gender identity. The state legislature also took the opportunity to clarify the definition of “sex” under state law by affirmatively stating that it refers “only to the designation of an individual person as male or female as indicated on the individual’s birth certificate.”

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LET’S MAKE IT EASIER: ADA Amendments Act and Regulations

August 24th, 2011   •   Comments Off on LET’S MAKE IT EASIER: ADA Amendments Act and Regulations   

Recently, while preparing materials for a presentation on the ADA Amendments Act and the newly released regulations, I told a colleague that I could merely walk in the room, say “everyone is disabled” and then walk out. That would be the extent of my presentation because as the regulations clearly state: The purpose of the amendments to the Americans with Disabilities Act was to make it easier for employees to come within the Act’s protection. Although the regulations retain the basic definition of disability, it substantially expands the terms necessary to making a determination of whether a disability exists. The final regulations provided nine rules of construction to apply in determining whether a substantial limitation exists:


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