Practice Areas

Special Education and Employment Attorney Serving Clients Throughout Tennessee

Students and workers have many protections under federal and Tennessee laws. These include the right to be free from certain forms of discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. For example, if you are a student who has special education needs that your school refuses to provide, you may have grounds to sue the school to enforce your rights. Similarly, if you are an employee who suffers from retaliation for filing a discrimination charge with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, you may have grounds to sue your employer for discrimination and retaliation. At The Salonus Firm, Tennessee employment lawyer and special education attorney Jessica Salonus provides strong, compassionate representation. She helps workers protect their rights in the workplace and children protect their rights in schools, as well as counseling businesses on compliance and related matters.

Special Education Law

The Salonus Firm handles claims arising under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA), Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973, and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA). Each of these federal laws provides important protections to students with disabilities and they provide for recourse in case of retaliation by schools. The firm also handles claims arising out of the abuse of students by schools.

Under the IDEA, students identified with certain categories of disabilities have a right to an Individualized Education Program (IEP). This is a program that creates an individualized blueprint for the special education and services that a child may have in school. Under Section 504, schools that receive federal financial assistance are prohibited from excluding disabled students from participating in or accessing the benefits of school. Children with disabilities under Section 504 are also guaranteed a free appropriate public education (FAPE), which includes special education and related services designed to meet their individual education needs as adequately as those of non-handicapped children. And while the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) does not guarantee any particular special education, it does prohibit discrimination against people with disabilities in school and provides for reasonable accommodations from the school.

Employment Law on Behalf of Employees

There are numerous federal and state laws that protect employees from discrimination, harassment, and retaliation. Federal anti-discrimination laws include Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act (ADEA), and the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), among others. Tennessee laws include laws such as the Tennessee Human Rights Act, the Tennessee Pregnancy Discrimination Act, the Tennessee Public Protection Act (TPPA), and the Tennessee Disability Act (TDA). However, not all of these laws apply to all workplaces. For example, as an employee at a company that employs 15 or more employees, you are entitled to the protections of the ADA, which prohibits discrimination in all employment-related activities on the basis of a worker’s disability. The ADA also requires employers to provide reasonable accommodations unless doing so would pose an undue hardship. Similarly, the TDA also prohibits employment discrimination on the basis of a physical, mental, or visual disability, but it does not include the right to a reasonable accommodation as the similar federal law does.

Additionally, if you work for an employer with 50 or more employees within a 75-mile radius, you may be entitled to the protection of the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA), which allows for unpaid leave to eligible employees for specified family and medical reasons. Employees eligible for FMLA leave receive a maximum of 12 weeks leave without compensation for specific reasons during a 12-month period without fear of reprisal or losing their job.

Employment Law on Behalf of Employers

To run an effective business, employers should be aware of their rights and obligations under numerous federal and state laws. When you first hire an employee, you should define the relationship through an employment contract and an employee handbook. The handbook should spell out workplace policies, including policies against sexual harassment and discrimination on the basis of various protected categories, such as race, national origin, color, religion, sex, disability, age, and creed. The policy should also include a mechanism whereby certain internal procedures must be followed in case an employee wishes to complain about discrimination, harassment, or retaliation. Developing a policy and having an internal complaint process can help protect your business if an employee believes that they have been subjected to discrimination at the hands of a supervisor whom you hired.

You may also wish to ensure that an employee does not simply use your company as a training ground and then quit to start a competitive business or work for a competitor. One way to protect your business is to include a non-compete clause in an employment contract. These clauses need to be limited in certain ways to be enforceable, and our firm can help make sure that your agreement is appropriately tailored if this situation arises.

Additionally, if an employee decides to leave, or you must terminate the employee, we can also help you develop a severance agreement that includes written legal releases of claims. Having a severance agreement that includes legal releases can help prevent you from being sued by the employee down the road.

Discuss Your Needs with a Special Education or Employment Lawyer in Tennessee

Students and employees are entitled to schools and workplaces that are free from discrimination, provide opportunities, and enable them to advance their goals. Tennessee attorney Jessica Salonus and The Salonus Firm are ready to guide you through the legal process. We serve clients who need an employment or special education lawyer in Jackson, Memphis, and Nashville, as well as other areas of Tennessee. Contact us at 731-300-0970 or via our online form to send your inquiry and receive a prompt response (typically within 48 hours) from The Salonus Firm.

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