Are there any legal restrictions against firing, suspending or disciplining employees?
Tennessee is known as an "EMPLOYMENT-AT-WILL" state. Generally, this means that an employer may legally hire, fire, suspend or discipline any employee at any time and for any reason - good or bad - or for no reason at all. However, an employer may not discriminate against any employee on the basis of the employee's race, sex, age, religion, color, national origin, or disability.
Also, under the Tennessee "WHISTLE BLOWER'S LAW", the employer may not take any reprisal against an employee who advises the employer that the business is in violation of a law and the employee either discloses, threatens to disclose, or testifies about the violation of law, or the employee objects to or refuses to participate in an employment act in violation of law. This law may be found at Tennessee Revised Statutes Title 50-1-304.
There are other exceptions to Tennessee's "EMPLOYMENT-AT-WILL" doctrine. Tennessee employees may not be disciplined or discharged at-will for:
Being called to military service Title 8-33-101 thru 8-33-109
Voting in elections Title 2-1-106
Exercising right of association Title 50-1-201 thru 50-1-204
Wage garnishment Title 26-2-101 thru 26-2-410
Filing workers' compensation claim Title 50-6-101 thru 50-6-705
Being called to jury duty Title 22-4-108
- (Employer must also pay the employee wages during the jury service less what the court pays.)
Employees who are fired may still apply for unemployment insurance benefits. The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development’s Unemployment Insurance Division will determine eligibility. Further information may be found under the Unemployment Insurance section of this web site.
Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development/Workplace Regulations and Compliance/Labor Standards Unit