Jack Burgin has a diverse labor and employment practice that focuses primarily on advising and defending employers on employment discrimination, employee benefits, whistleblower and wrongful discharge matters. He also advises and defends plan administrators and plan sponsors on creating and complying with welfare benefit plans governed by the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (“ERISA”).
Before joining Kramer Rayson, Mr. Burgin graduated with honors from The University of Tennessee College of Law (1989), and then clerked for the Honorable Gary R. Wade, then Judge of the Tennessee Court of Criminal Appeals.
Jack authors "Our Own Point of View" a blog about legal issues affecting Tennessee employers, contributes to the DIS Unplugged, a travel blog, where he writes about pending legal disputes involving Disney and other theme parks, and sometimes appears as a guest on the DIS Unplugged Podcast.
For the better part of 2001 to 2011, Jack served as the president of Appalachian Bear Rescue, an organization devoted to helping injured and orphaned black bear cubs return to the wild. He also served two terms on the Tennessee Commission on Continuing Legal Education and Specialization, serving as Chair of the CLE Commission in 2011. He is an avid amateur photographer and enjoys traveling and hiking with his wife, Catherine.
Mr. Burgin has successfully defended employers or benefit plans in the following civil actions (either singularly or with his partners):
Scheib v. Retirement Program Plan for Employees of Certain Employers at the U.S. Department of Energy Facilities at Oak Ridge, Tennessee, 2012 U.S. App. Lexis 13751 (6th Cir. 2012), an ERISA lawsuit seeking to compel the defined benefit retirement plan to pay retirement benefits in a lump sum rather than in an annuity. The court of appeals, however, held that the plan provision requiring the plan to permit an "eligible rollover distribution" was reasonably interpreted to mean that rollovers not required if the plan did not pay benefits to the beneficiary in a lump sum. Rather, the plan provision required the plan to permit a direct rollover of plan benefits if the benefits were paid in a form that could be rolled over. See 26 USCS § 402(c)(4) (defining eligible rollover distribution).
Johnson v. Retirement Program Plan For Employees of Certain Employers at The U.S. Department Of Energy Facilities At Oak Ridge, Tennessee, 2007 U.S. Dist. LEXIS 14595 (E.D. Tenn. 2007), an ERISA lawsuit arising out of Plan’s efforts to recoup overpayments mistakenly paid to beneficiary. The court held the Retirement Plan had authority to recover for the overpayment even though, as the beneficiary argued, there was no express authority to do so in the plan document itself. The court also held the Plan’s decision to allow the beneficiary to repay the amount over a course of years, did not rise to the level of being inequitable as required by Sixth Circuit caselaw.
Adams v. Lockheed Martin Energy Systems, Inc., 199 Fed. Appx. 405 (6th Cir. 2006), an ERISA breach of fiduciary duty and failure to provide severance pay lawsuit brought by 176 former information technology employees who were outsourced to a subcontractor. The court held there was no severance pay due and the client did not mislead employees about their continued participation in the client’s benefit plans by making statements to the employees about their expected benefits with the new subcontractor.
Edwards v. Department of Energy, 200 Fed. Appx. 382 (6th Cir. 2006), an ERISA and USEC Privatization Act class action lawsuit arising out of the spinoff of the pension plan for the United States Enrichment Corporation from the Department of Energy’s Management and Operating Contractor at the Paducah and Portsmouth Uranium Enrichment Plants. The court held that the passage of the 1996 USEC Privatization Act and the several communications to the transitioned employees about the transfer of pension assets put plaintiffs on notice that they had a potential cause of action under the USEC Privatization Act more than 4 years before they filed the complaint.
Campbell v. Wackenhut Services, Inc., a Family and Medical Leave Act retaliation claim in which the jury returned a defense verdict.
Cannon v. Levi Strauss & Co., 29 Fed. Appx. 331 (6th Cir. 2002), an Americans with Disabilities Act lawsuit that held when an employer relies upon a physician’s reasonable evaluation of an employee, the employer does not regard an employee as having a substantially limiting impairment because the ADA “regarded as” definition of disability looks to whether the employer viewed the employee through a stereotyped view of disability.
Souders v. Boeing Oak Ridge Co., No. 3:03-cv-362 (E.D. Tenn. June 15, 2004). Employee filed sexual harassment/hostile work environment after two anonymous incidents were directed at her. District Court held the anonymous incidents and other issues did not create a hostile work environment. The court further held employee failed to establish an adverse employment action or sex discrimination arising out of the employer’s alleged failure to train female employees on specific manufacturing equipment where female employees had been trained to use significant number of the equipment.
Turpin v. Lockheed Martin Energy Systems, Inc. and BWXT Y-12, LLC, Case No. 02-101 (ARB Jan. 29, 2004). Employee filed complaint with Department of Labor claiming to be a nuclear whistleblower under the Energy Reorganization Act. Client disciplined employee after he used a radiation detection instrument knowing its calibration had expired. Client later put employee on short term disability leave after employee made repeated mistakes on simple tasks that were attributed to mental function. Second client subsequently placed employee on long-term disability leave for same reasons. The Department of Labor ruled in favor of client holding that disability leave was "a reasonable option and a less draconian one than termination which would have been fully justified considering complainant’s continuing substandard performance."
Varnadore v. Secretary of Labor, 141 F.3d 625 (6th Cir. 1998), a lengthy and widely publicized environmental whistleblower claim brought against a Department of Energy Management and Operating contractor alleging retaliation for having “blown the whistle” on supposed environmental wrongdoing. The Department of Labor and the court rejected the whistleblower’s continuing violation argument on some claims and, on the timely claims, held the employee failed to establish a retaliatory hostile work environment or a retaliatory motive.
United States ex rel Fine v. MK-Ferguson, Co., 99 F.3d 1538 (10th Cir. 1996), a qui tam lawsuit under the False Claims Act, brought by a retired Department of Energy Inspector General employee. The decision held the employee relied upon publicly disclosed information, the IG reports the employee had review in his role as an IG auditor, and was not an original source because he had failed to voluntarily disclose the information to the government before bringing the qui tam lawsuit.
Mr. Burgin currently serves as President of Appalachian Bear Rescue, a non-profit organization dedicated to the rehabilitation of injured and orphaned black bear cubs.
Dummies for Ethics, Kramer Rayson LLP Labor and Employment Law Seminar (2012).
Thriving in the Wage Hour Wilderness,
Seminar to Sevier County Employers (2008).
What HR Managers Need to Know to Avoid ERISA Pitfalls.
Kramer Rayson LLP Labor and Employment Law Seminar (2007).
Untangling the Overlap Between the FMLA and Federal and State Laws: Workers’ Compensation, FLSA, Title VII, HIPAA, and COBRA, Council on Education in Management (2007)
Ten Ways to Avoid Compensation Discrimination Liability,
Kramer Rayson LLP Labor and Employment Seminar 2006
Employee Leave, The Struggle for Consistency,
Kramer Rayson Labor and Employment Law Seminar (2005)