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What to Know About Tennessee Employment Laws

Posted on May 26, 2023 in

Tennesseans’ relationships with their workplace play an intricate part in life. Understanding the employment laws of Tennessee is vital to employees’ rights and defining what fair compensation is under the law. If you have questions concerning employment in Tennessee and workplace practices, speak with a Mount Juliet employment law attorney to determine if your employment rights may have been violated.

Tennessee Recruiting and Hiring Laws

Certain practices are permitted by employers, while others are not under Tennessee law.


An employer has the right to ask an applicant to complete physical tests before hiring to ensure they can complete the job duties. There is specific medical information that is protected under privacy laws that an employer does not have the right to request.

Potential job candidates can be asked to submit to drug testing before hiring and during employment. Testing requirements should be provided to employees.


Employers have the right and must verify that a new hire can legally work in the United States. They must also promptly report a new hire to the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development to help minimize fraudulent worker’s compensation payout and unemployment claims.

An employer cannot ask a potential employee about their criminal history on a job application but has the right to perform background checks only after the initial screening of an applicant has been completed.

Tennessee Wage Laws

Wage laws are part of Tennessee employment laws that protect an earner from unfair pay practices. We will look at a few below. It is best to consult a Tennessee employment lawyer to discuss wage discrimination.

  • An employer cannot pay employees differently based on their gender, specifically if the genders are performing similar work.
  • Employers must pay employees on schedule and on time.
  • Employers are not allowed to deduct any expenses from a paycheck with the expectation of taxes or those expenses authorized by an employee. An example of a permissible deduction is health insurance premiums.
  • Because Tennessee does not have state laws on overtime pay, federal laws apply to earned overtime compensation.
  • Employees in Tennessee are entitled to meal breaks and reasonable accommodations for breastfeeding breaks, generally scheduling these breaks concurrently with a meal and other breaks. Exceptions do apply.

Time Off

In addition to state law, federal laws apply to leave and absence. Some acceptable reasons for absence from work may include jury duty, military, voting, maternity, and veteran’s leave. Federal law requires companies with 50 or more employees to adhere to the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) which would allow qualified employees up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave a year for approved reasons.

Tennessee Health and Safety Laws

Employees are entitled by law to a healthy and safe work environment. Some of the laws that apply are:

  • A smoke-free workplace
  • Weapons-free workplace
  • Proper workplace training
  • Safe driving standards

Tennessee Fair Employment Laws

Four major laws govern fair employment practices in Tennessee. These laws are listed below.

  • The Tennessee Disability Act protects employees from discrimination based on a mental, physical, or visual disability.
  • The Tennessee Human Rights Act safeguards employees from discrimination based on race, creed, color, religion, sex, age, or nationality.
  • The Tennessee Pregnant Workers Fairness Act accommodates the medical needs and requests that may arise because of pregnancy and childbirth, along with related medical conditions.
  • The Tennessee Public Protection Act protects employees from termination if the employee reports or refuse to participate in illegal work activities.

Employee Removal

Employees are also protected against unlawful firing methods and must receive any compensation owed to them. Mass firing and layoff laws are also in place.

Proven Representation in Tennessee Employment Laws

As an employee, you have the right to know and understand the laws that govern the workplace. Failure of an employee to follow these state and federal laws can result in severe penalties. An employee should never feel threatened or afraid in a work environment.

If you feel your rights as a worker have been compromised under Tennessee employment laws, The Law Offices of Christopher Eads will work with you to ensure that you receive the representation you deserve in a Tennessee Employment Law claim.