August 2020 Tennessee HR Legal Updates

Tennessee Passes COVID-19 Liability Shield for Employers

What happened?
Governor Lee signed the Tennessee COVID-19 Recovery Act into law on August 17, 2020.

What are the details?
The Tennessee COVID-19 Recovery Act will help shield employers from litigation regarding COVID-19 exposure. The Act will protect businesses, healthcare providers, schools, non-profits, and other entities and individuals. The Act will not protect in cases where the complainant can prove by clear and convincing evidence that the business, healthcare provider, school, non-profit, entity, or individual proximately caused the loss, damage, injury, or death by an act constituting gross negligence or willful misconduct. Claimants will need to provide additional documentation:

  • A verified complaint pleading specific facts outlining the defendant’s purported gross negligence or willful misconduct
    • A certificate of good faith stating the claimant or claimant’s counsel has consulted with a physician licensed in Tennessee or a bordering state, and the physician has provided a signed written statement that the physician is competent to express an opinion on exposure or contraction of COVID-19 and that physician believes the alleged damage was caused by an alleged act of the defendant

If the claimant does not provide the above documents, the action may be dismissed with prejudice. The full Act can be found here.

What do employers need to do?
Employers should continue following guidelines provided by the state to ensure they are not negligent in exposing employees unnecessarily to COVID-19.


Tennessee Provides New Guidance on COVID-19 Isolation and Quarantine

What happened?
The Tennessee Department of Health has released new guidelines for businesses to refer to when dealing with employee isolations.

What are the details?
The new guidelines advise on a 10-day isolation period for employees, at minimum. A confirmed COVID- 19 case must isolate for at least 10 days. A severe or returning case may have to isolate for no fewer than 20 days. It’s all about the fever. If within the 10-day isolation period, a case is without a fever for 24 hours, they must still isolate for the full 10 days. If they are fever-free for 24 hours during the 10 days but then develop a fever while still within the 10-day period, they must experience another 24 hours fever-free before ending isolation. As a result, a second fever could require the isolation to extend beyond 10 days.

The guidelines can be found here.

What do employers need to do?
Employers should familiarize themselves with the guidelines in order to advise employees and create their own policies regarding COVID-19 isolation.