Cool Springs-based law firm Thompson Burton has hired Jennifer M. Lankford as an associate.
Lankford (pictured), who most recently served as an associate attorney at Nashville-based firm Cornelius & Collins, will aid Thompson Burton partner J.K. Simms in the firm’s existing employment law practice group.
Lankford has experience in the areas of wrongful discharge, non-compete agreements, retaliation, discrimination, harassment, and hostile work environment claims arising from a variety of laws, including Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act, the Family and Medical Leave Act, the Tennessee Human Rights Act, and the Fair Labor Standards Act. She has handled employment disputes in federal and state courts, as well as before the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and United States Department of Labor.
“I am thrilled that Jennifer has joined the Thompson Burton team and we have the opportunity again to join forces and provide what I believe to be legal service in the employment arena that is second-to-none,” Walt Burton, firm partner and co-founder, said in the release. “We are very guarded about the culture of our law firm. Jennifer is a perfect fit and fantastic lawyer. We couldn’t be more pleased.”
Lankford received her law degree from the University of Tennessee College of Law, where she served as lead student materials editor for the Tennessee Law Review, as well as a staff writer for Transactions: Tennessee Journal of Business Law and the Howard H. Baker Jr. Center Journal for Applied Public Policy. During law school, she worked as a research assistant to Professor Penny J. White and as a legal extern at the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals for the Honorable D. Kelley Thomas.
Lankford obtained her Bachelor of Arts degree at the University of Tennessee, where she graduated summa cum laude with double majors in communication studies and psychology.
Nashville-based attorney and Tennessee Firearms Association Executive Director John Harris says the nonprofit is “exploring options” following the Tennessee Department of State noting via letter it will enforce the Tennessee Charitable Solicitations Act on the TFA.
Harris, who contends the TFA does not have a charitable component, said he would like to keep a lawsuit, if he chooses that option, amicable. He added he simply would seek the opinion of an attorney general or a court.
“This is very bad for nonprofits that are not charities and I think may be politically motivated,” Harris said. “It’s not a good thing for a government agency to have detailed oversight and information on the internal operations of a politically active ‘non-charity’ for First Amendment reasons and others.”
In the letter to Harris (pictured), dated July 15, Brent Culberson, director of the Tennessee Department of State's Division of Charitable Solicitation and Gaming, writes that the TFA must register with the division by Aug. 1 if it “intends to solicit contributions” in Tennessee.
“If the TFA does not become fully compliant by the August 1 deadline, the division will be left with no choice but to institute an enforcement action pursuant against the TFA for its continued violation of the Act,” Culberson writes, adding enforcement could include “obtaining injunctive relief and assessing civil penalties against the TFA.”
Harris contends the division of charitable solicitation is overreaching on its longstanding definition of “charitable organization" and, in the process, is creating undue requirements on numerous state nonprofits that do not consider themselves to be charities. He said that because the requirements are cumbersome, he recently amended TFA’s state charter to note it is not a charity.
Specifically, the Tennessee Charitable Solicitations Act, passed in 1976, requires nonprofits that are or bill themselves as “benevolent, educational, voluntary health, philanthropic, humane, patriotic, religious or eleemosynary (i.e., charitable)” to register with the state as charitable organizations.
For the first year of operating and after filing its initial registration, a nonprofit must provide the state with quarterly reports outlining contributions and expenditures, among other financials. After the first year, the charitable nonprofit must submit an annual financial report as part of the renewal process.
Harris, who voluntarily serves as TFA executive director, said filing with the state four times for the first year will require expenses that go beyond those needed to simply comply with IRS requirements.
Harris said the state notified TFA, a 501(c)(4) organization, earlier this year that it considers the association a charity.
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The Southern Poverty Law Center, Tennessee Justice Center and National Health Law Program are holding a press conference call at 11 a.m. Wednesday to announced the filing of a federal lawsuit against the state of Tennessee.
The suit is expected to address the failures within the state's Medicaid program, TennCare. Earlier this month, officials with the Center for Medicaid and CHIP Services outlined six areas in which TennCare is noncompliant with Affordable Care Act requirements.
Following the rebuke, the Times Free Press reported that the three legal advocacy groups were closely monitoring TennCare's response, and that a lawsuit would be a last resort in solving the state-run agency's issues.