Tennessee Legislation Wrap Up: What You Need to Know Before July 1st

Miller & Martin PLLC Alerts | May 19, 2015

by Stacie Caraway

We have previously updated you on Tennessee's new "non-retaliation for the lawful possession of a firearm" law which will go into effect on July 1, 2015.

However, now that the State Legislature has wrapped up its 2015 session, we wanted to make you aware of two new laws which will also go into effect on July 1 and did not get as much "press" as the new gun possession protection law.

1.  A Duty to Protect Social Security Numbers

This new law states that "[a]ny person, nonprofit or for profit business entity in this state, including, but not limited to, any sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company or corporation, engaged in any business, including, but not limited to, health care, that has obtained a federal social security number for a legitimate business or governmental purpose shall make reasonable efforts to protect that social security number from disclosure to the public."

The law goes on to state that these "reasonable efforts" shall include but shall not be limited to making sure social security numbers are not:

(1)  Posted or displayed in public;

(2)  Transmitted over the Internet, unless the Internet connection used is secure or the social security number is encrypted;

(3)  Required in order to log onto or access an Internet website, unless used in combination with a password or other authentication device;

(4)  Printed on any materials mailed to a person, unless the disclosure is required by law, or the document is a form or application the person has completed; or

(5)  Printed on any card, check, identification or badge that the person must display or present in order to receive a benefit, good, service or other thing of value to which the person is entitled based upon the person's contract or other agreement with the entity issuing the card, check, identification or badge (this could include pay checks, insurance or other benefit cards or payroll account cards).

Three Exceptions

The disclosure of a federal social security number by an entity is permitted under the new law, so long as the disclosure is for a legitimate business or governmental purpose and occurs pursuant to the terms of a business or governmental contract or other legal obligation.

Disclosure also is permitted if the (1) person gives permission, in writing; (2) disclosure is authorized or required under state or federal law; or (3) disclosure is made: (a) to a consumer reporting agency as defined by the federal Fair Credit Reporting Act; (b) to a financial institution subject to the privacy provisions of the federal Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act; or (c) to a financial institution subject to the International Money Laundering Abatement and Financial Anti-Terrorism Act of 2001.

Finally, any state agency or nonprofit or for profit business entity engaged in the provision of health care services under Title XIX, including determining eligibility for Title XIX services, shall be exempted from these requirements.

Penalties

A violation of this new law is a Class B misdemeanor, and each violation shall constitute a separate offense. In addition to being a criminal offense, it is also a civil offense, for any person, any nonprofit or for profit business entity in this state, including, but not limited to, any sole proprietorship, partnership, limited liability company or corporation, engaged in any business, including, but not limited to, health care, to violate this law, such that presumably the person or entity also could be sued by the individual whose social security number was compromised for any damages resulting from the disclosure of the same.

2.  Disclosure of Workers' Compensation Coverage

In Tennessee, all persons who are engaged in construction (unless they are performing the work solely and directly themselves), all entities who are engaged in coal mining or any employer with 5 or more employees is required either to be self-insured or otherwise provide workers' compensation coverage to their employees.

In an effort to ensure compliance with these requirements, as of July 1 the following information shall constitute a public record, and shall be open for personal inspection by any citizen of the state: (1) employer name and business address; (2) workers' comp insurance carrier name and business address; and (3) workers' comp insurance policy number, policy effective date, policy expiration date, policy cancellation date and policy reinstatement date.

As always, should you have any questions regarding these developments, please feel free to contact Stacie Caraway or any other member of our Labor and Employment Law Practice Group.

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