With the election of our next President only days away, employees and employers need to start thinking about voting plans. Imagine the following conversation between employee and employer:
“I need to take off to go vote today."
“Wait a minute Joe, you do that on your own time.”
“I’ve got to vote!”
“Well, if you leave work, no need to come back."
Steve Collins with the Knoxville law firm Spicer Rudstrom, PLLC says, “EMPLOYERS – WAIT, WAIT DON'T DO IT!” Tennessee Code Annotated 2-1-106 provides that the employee on the day of an election must be given "a reasonable period of time, not to exceed three (3) hours, necessary to vote during the time the polls are open in the county where the person is a resident.” The law also provides, however, that Joe has to make application for the time off at least before 12:00 noon on the day before the election. Further, the law provides that if the employee's work begins three or more hours after the polls have opened or ends three or more hours before the polls close in the county where the employee is a resident, then the employee is not entitled to the time off. The employee “may not be subjected to any penalty or reduction in pay for such absence.”
"Termination of an employee for a protected right, protected by a statute or regulation, can give rise to a retaliatory discharge lawsuit. If Joe makes an application before lunchtime the day before the election and if Joe's work does not start three or more hours after the polls in his county open or his work does not end three or more hours before the polls close in his county, you better let him off to go vote."
"In the case of Hodges v. S.C. Toof & Co., 833 S.W.2d 896 (Tenn. 1992) a Tennessee jury returned a verdict of $575,000 for a plaintiff found to have been wrongfully discharged for engaging in a protected activity (jury duty). So, wait, wait don't do it!"
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