Employers in Tennessee must abide by a specific set of laws when choosing to terminate an employee. For example, laws exist that protect employees against being fired because they are a specific nationality or because they practice a certain religion. In cases where these laws are violated, employers might find their employee takes legal action against them.
At-Will Employment in Tennessee
Tennessee is an at-will employment state, just like many other states in the country. For this reason, employers have the right to terminate an employee at any time and for any reason, or for no reason at all, without legal consequence. However, at-will employment laws do not apply in cases where an employment contract exists or other statutes apply to the employer-employee relationship that affect termination policies. Additionally, exceptions exist to at-will employment laws that limit when employers can let go of an employee on proper legal grounds.
Wrongful Termination in Tennessee
Since exceptions exist to at-will employment law in Tennessee, employers could find themselves involved in a lawsuit if they are unaware of what these exceptions are. When an employee files an employment lawsuit against his or her employer, he or she may receive front pay, back pay and compensation for damages. The employee may also return to his or her former position.
Breach of Contract: Employers who disobey the terms outlined in an employment contract may find themselves on the receiving end of a lawsuit. Employers need to be careful to make sure if the worker is not an at-will employee, they fire the employee based on reasons that can be justified under the contract. It is also important that employers honor both written and oral contracts, and that they watch out for situations where an implied contract may be in place. For example, if an employment contract states an employee can only be fired for a certain reason, then this implies an employee can keep his or her job until that action is committed.
Discrimination: Many wrongful termination cases develop in situations where alleged discrimination occurred. Under employment law in Tennessee and under federal regulations, employers cannot terminate an employee on the basis of his or her religion, color, national origin, color, or disability. However, only employers in the state with eight or more employees must abide by these anti-discrimination laws.
Retaliation: Employers in Tennessee are unable to retaliate against any employee who advises them that they are violating the law. Employees are unable to take action against any employee who threatens to disclose, actually discloses or testifies that his or her employer violated a law. This often applies in cases where employees report their employer for violating workplace health and safety laws.
The state has also enacted laws that prevent employers from retaliating against employees who exercise certain rights. For example, an employee cannot be fired or treated unfairly if he or she is called to military service, exercises his or her right to vote, files a claim for workers’ compensation or is called to jury duty.
Public Policy: In Tennessee, employers are prohibited from terminating an employee if the situation violates an established policy. For instance, employees in the state can take up to three hours of paid leave to cast their ballots in the event of an election. However, employers are not required to provide this paid leave to their workers who either end their day three hours before the polls close or those who start their workday within at least three hours of the polls opening. Other policies that protect employees involve things like maternity leave, military leave, jury duty leave and family and medical leave.
The content on our website is only meant to provide general information and is not legal advice. We make our best efforts to make sure the information is accurate, but we cannot guarantee it. Do not rely on the content as legal advice. For assistance with legal problems or for a legal inquiry please contact you attorney.