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Tennessee Employment Law

It’s common for a worker to feel powerless against the whims of an employer. In an at-will employment state like Tennessee, you may feel like your employer has taken your job hostage—if you don’t do as they say, you could end up with a lighter paycheck or jobless. Tennessee’s employment laws ensure that workers are never this powerless against employers.

Employment law covers a multitude of topics, including worker’s compensation, workplace discrimination, vacation and overtime, unemployment benefits and more. Your employment dispute is often affected by federal, state and local laws simultaneously. Tennessee employment law attorneys are experienced with the delicacy and complexity of work-related cases and can help protect your rights.

Common Tennessee Employment Law Issues

Workplace discrimination and harassment is a common problem in Tennessee especially in light of modern civil rights movements. Examples of workplace discrimination and harassment include:

  • A department store doesn’t hire a worker to be a greeter because of their physical disability.
  • A pregnant woman is let go for requesting or taking maternity leave.
  • Coworkers of a company with a largely Christian workforce constantly make demeaning jokes about their Jewish coworker.

Tennessee’s human rights statutes protect workers of specific protected classes from workplace discrimination and harassment. It is illegal for an employer to discriminate against a worker based on their:

  • Race
  • Creed
  • Color
  • Religion
  • Sex
  • Age
  • National origin

Race, age and sex are among the classes that are most commonly discriminated against in Tennessee. Meanwhile, sexual orientation and gender identity are not protected classes under Tennessee law despite a national movement towards lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) equality. Workplace discrimination and harassment cases involving LGBT workers are complicated in Tennessee courts due to this lack of protection.

Tennessee Minimum Wage

Tennessee doesn’t actually have a state minimum wage law. Instead, the state defers to the federal minimum wage of $7.25/hour. A bill to establish a state minimum wage and incrementally increase it to $15/hour by 2018 was struck down in 2016.

Tennessee Vacation Laws

Employers are not required to provide employees with either paid or unpaid vacation according to Tennessee law (see Tennessee Code Annotated § 50-2-103). However, if an employer decides to offer a vacation benefit, they are legally obligated to adhere to their vacation policies.

An employer is free to draft and enforce their own vacation policy or contract agreement. Most companies offer a vacation benefit to certain classes of employees. Vacation policy terms like accrual aren’t regulated by state law. When an employee quits or is terminated, though, state law requires employers to pay out any accrued vacation pay that is owed.

Get Help from a Tennessee Employment Attorney

If you or a loved one is involved in an employment law dispute, it’s in your best interests to consult with an attorney. Employment law is a broad, complicated legal area with federal and state laws at play. An experienced Tennessee employment law attorney can help protect your legal rights.

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