Bradley attorneys have partnered with Lexology to draft the Getting the Deal Through Employment chapter for Mississippi.
This guide covers a state snapshot, the employment relationship, hiring, wage and hour, discrimination, harassment and family leave, privacy in the workplace, trade secrets and restrictive covenants, labor relations and discipline and termination. With a premium Lexology account uses can use the interactive tool to create a cross border comparative report.
The comprehensive list of Lexology’s Employment Guides is available on Lexology’s website.
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1. Which issues would you most highlight to someone new to your state?
Mississippi has few state-specific employment laws and few companies are unionized. It is a right-to-work state, which means that participation in any union is voluntary and cannot be made a condition of employment. As a general rule, employment is at will, meaning that an employer may terminate an employee for any reason, subject to a few exceptions.
Despite the lack of unique laws, there is an active employment litigation docket in the state. Numerous employment cases are tried to verdict each year and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission is highly involved.
2. What do you consider unique to those doing business in your state?
As there is little state-level regulation of employment and few workplaces are unionized, labor costs in Mississippi are relatively low. Most of the jobs in Mississippi are hourly and at a low rate. Agriculture is a large industry in the state and affects how the Fair Labor Standards Act is applied.
The racial make-up and history in the state lends itself to race discrimination being added to many employment disputes. Mississippi’s history as a plaintiff-friendly forum also makes some plaintiff lawyers more willing to take cases to trial.
Mississippi has had several high-profile immigration raids in recent years, of which agricultural businesses have been the primary targets.
3. Is there any general advice you would give in the labor/employment area?
Employers must be familiar with Fair Labor Standards Act exemptions, both for managers and for industry-specific areas (e.g., agriculture).
Employers must be vigilant in documenting disciplinary actions and adverse employment actions. That will assist in defending discrimi-nation matters.
All employers must ensure that their I-9 procedures are enforced and well documented.
4. What are the emerging trends in employment law in your state, including the interplay with other areas of law, such as firearms legislation, legalization of marijuana and privacy?
Proposals for Reform
5. Are there any noteworthy proposals for reform in your state?
Mississippi state government has passed laws that protect businesses from being sued for gender identity and sexual orientation discrimination suits if they have a legitimate religious objection. It is unclear how the state may react if the federal laws are interpreted to protect those categories under Title VII.
Mississippi does not appear to be prepared to allow for any marijuana legalization—even for medical purposes—in the near future.
Mississippi tends to be in favor of open-carry legislation and has extended the right to have a gun in a trunk on an employer’s premises. It is unclear if the state will expand that right.
6. What state-specific laws govern the employment relationship?
Mississippi has a right-to-work statute and an employment-at-will statute. Mississippi also has an e-verification statute for I-9 compliance.
7. Who do these cover, including categories of workers?
8. Are there state-specific rules regarding employee/contractor misclassification?
9. Must an employment contract be in writing?
Unless an employment contract is in writing, it is presumed to be at will.
10. Are any terms implied into employment contracts?
There are no applicable Mississippi laws, other than the general rule that all contracts include an implied covenant of good faith and fair dealing.
11. Are mandatory arbitration agreements enforceable?
There are no applicable Mississippi laws on this issue.
12. How can employers make changes to existing employment agreements?
No Mississippi rules specifically address changes to employment agree-ments. As a matter of general contract law, any relevant terms of the written contract regarding amendments to the existing agreement will apply.
Republished with permission. The full version of "Lexology Employment Guide: Mississippi" is available here for those who do not have access to Lexology PRO Enterprise. This employment guide was published by Lexology in November 2020.