Tennessee Labor Laws

Tennessee Labor Laws (2024 Guide For Employers)

It’s essential for employers and employees working in the state of Tennessee to have a solid understanding of Tennessee labor laws.

  • Are you aware of your rights regarding workers’ compensation in Tennessee?
  • Do you know what benefits full-time employees are entitled to under state law?
  • Are you struggling to understand the regulations around paid time off and holiday leave?
  • Concerned about the legality of certain activities in the workplace, and how they may affect you or a family member?

Making sense of all the labor laws in the state of Tennessee is no easy task.

In this guide, we will point you toward resources that break down everything employees and employers need to know about labor laws in Tennessee.

This article is for:

  • Employees in Tennessee seeking clarity on their rights and entitlements.
  • Employers in Tennessee looking to ensure compliance with state labor laws.
  • Individuals with family members employed in Tennessee who want to understand their rights and protections.

Many have experienced the confusion and frustration that arises from a lack of understanding of employment laws.

Let’s break down what you need to know and how you can find out more about state-specific laws.

Disclaimer: Despite our best efforts to provide you with accurate information on this topic at the time of writing, we cannot guarantee the accuracy of the content at the time of reading. This blog post is for informational purposes only and should not be considered legal advice. Consult an attorney for specific guidance on Tennessee labor laws.

Tennessee Wage Laws

Since Tennessee doesn’t have a state-mandated minimum wage, employers must adhere to the federal minimum wage of $7.25 per hour.

However, there are a few exceptions:

Tipped employees

Employers can pay tipped employees a minimum of $2.13 per hour, with the expectation that tips bring their earnings up to at least the federal minimum wage.

Young workers

Employees under the age of 20 can be paid a ‘training wage’ of $4.25 per hour for their first 90 consecutive days of employment.

Tennessee Payment Laws

Tennessee employers must follow specific rules regarding how often employees are paid:

Pay frequency

Most employees must be paid at least semi-monthly (twice per month). Specific exceptions exist for specific industries, which you can find on the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development website.

Final paychecks

When an employee is terminated, employers must issue the final paycheck by the next regular payday, or within 21 days of termination – whichever comes first.

Tennessee Overtime Laws

Tennessee overtime laws largely mirror the federal FLSA requirements:

Overtime eligibility

Non-exempt employees are entitled to overtime pay. Exemptions typically apply to salaried, professional, administrative, and executive positions.

Overtime rate

The overtime rate is 1.5 times the employee’s regular hourly rate.

Workweek

Defined as a fixed period of 168 hours over seven consecutive days. Overtime is calculated based on any hours worked over 40 in a workweek.

Tennessee Break Laws

Tennessee does not mandate specific rest breaks for adult employees. However, employers must provide:

Meal breaks

While not explicitly required, it’s recommended to offer at least a 30-minute meal period for shifts exceeding six consecutive hours.

Breastfeeding breaks

Employers must provide reasonable break time and a private space (which isn’t a bathroom) for employees to express breast milk.

Tennessee Leave Requirements

Tennessee has limited state-mandated leave laws, so many employees rely on federal protections:

Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA)

Eligible employees may take up to 12 weeks of unpaid leave annually for qualifying family or medical reasons.

Sick leave

No state-mandated sick leave exists, though employers may offer it.

Jury duty leave

Employers must allow time off for jury duty, but unpaid unless the employer has a policy stating otherwise.

Military leave

Protections exist for members of the National Guard or reserves called to active duty.

Child Labor Laws in Tennessee

Tennessee enforces strict child labor laws to protect minors in the workplace:

Minimum age

Teens 14 and 15 years old may work with restrictions. The minimum age for most other jobs is 16.

Hour restrictions

Limitations apply to the number of hours and the times of day minors can work, especially during school hours.

Work permits

In many cases, minors need a work permit to be legally employed.

Hazardous occupations

Teens under 18 are prohibited from specific hazardous jobs.

Tennessee Hiring Laws

Tennessee employers must comply with anti-discrimination laws and other regulations during the hiring process:

Federal protections

Discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age (40+), disability, or genetic information is prohibited.

Tennessee-specific protections

State law adds protections against discrimination based on the use of lawful agricultural products and activities outside of work hours.

E-Verify

While not mandatory for all private employers, some may be required to use the E-Verify system to check employees’ work authorization.

Tennessee Termination Laws

Tennessee is an “at-will” employment state. Here’s what that means:

Termination without cause

Both employees and employers can generally terminate the employment relationship at any time, with or without notice, and for any reason (or no reason), as long as it’s not discriminatory or retaliatory.

Exceptions

While at-will is the dominant rule, exceptions exist. Employment contracts, union agreements, or employer policies may provide additional protection.

Wrongful termination

Employees may have legal recourse if they were terminated for reasons that are discriminatory, retaliatory, or breach an implied or written contract.

Occupational Safety in Tennessee

Ensuring a safe and healthy workplace is a responsibility shared by both employers and employees in Tennessee. Here’s the breakdown:

TOSHA

The Tennessee Occupational Safety and Health Administration (TOSHA) enforces workplace safety standards similar to federal OSHA regulations.

Employer obligations

Employers must provide a workplace free of recognized hazards, comply with TOSHA standards, and maintain records of work-related injuries and illnesses.

Employee rights

Employees have the right to report safety concerns, request inspections, and refuse work they believe is imminently dangerous without fear of retaliation.

Whistleblower protections

Tennessee law protects employees from retaliation for reporting safety violations or exercising their workplace safety rights.

Disclaimer: Not Legal Advice

This blog post provides a general overview of Tennessee labor laws but does not constitute legal advice. Laws and regulations are subject to change, and there may be additional requirements or exemptions that apply to specific situations. Employers and employees should consult a qualified labor law attorney for advice on their specific circumstances.

If you have any questions about your rights or obligations as an employer or employee in Tennessee, it is essential to consult with a labor law attorney to receive accurate information and guidance tailored to your situation. By seeking professional legal advice, you can ensure that you are taking the appropriate steps to comply with labor laws and protect your rights.

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