Labor Laws in Tennessee
All Tennessee workers are subject to the state’s labor laws. These laws address all aspects of employment, such as wages, termination, child labor, discrimination, harassment, employee leave, and employee/employer rights.
Labor laws are specific and should be strictly followed. Unfortunately, there are times when employers — either accidentally or intentionally — break these rules, and employees suffer for it.
Many people worry about going up against their employers. They’re concerned about getting fired or being retaliated against at work. After all, we all need our jobs.
Let our proven Nashville labor lawyers do the work for you. We don’t let employers get away with unfair practices that violate your rights. We’re here to protect you and make things right again.
It’s easy to learn whether you have a case. Just give us a call or fill out our online contact form for a free consultation.
Hiring and Firing Laws in Tennessee
Tennessee is an at-will employment state. That means that employers can hire or fire an employee at any time, even without reason. However, both Tennessee and federal laws prohibit termination for characteristics including:
- National origin
In addition, employees cannot be fired if they are:
- Called to military service
- Exercising right of association (e.g., organizing to form trade unions)
- Wage garnishment
- Chosen for jury duty
- Filing a workers’ compensation claim for a job injury
Due to the fact that employers have the right to fire at will, it can be difficult to know whether you have been wrongfully terminated. The trusted attorneys at the Employment and Consumer Law Group can review your case to identify whether you were fired unjustly.
Fair Labor Standards Act Explained
The Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) is a federal law that dictates that all employees in the country must have reasonable and safe working conditions. The FLSA also governs minimum wage, overtime, employment laws for minors, and employer record-keeping. All employees are covered under the FLSA including federal, state, and municipal workers.
When an aspect of employment is not covered by state law, employers are required to defer to the FLSA. Tennessee relies on the FLSA for many of its wage rules.
Minimum Wage in Tennessee
Tennessee has not established its own minimum wage. Instead, the state follows the wage rules in accordance with the FLSA. Most employees are currently entitled to earn $7.25 per hour.
Employees that earn tips are entitled to $5.12 per hour. When the tip is mandatory and included in the bill or otherwise paid to the employer, the employee must receive it the same day or in their next paycheck. If the tip was distributed through a credit card held by the employer, the gratuity must be paid to the employee on the same day they receive it.
Tennessee has also enacted the statewide Wage Regulations Act. This ensures employers do not engage in unfair practices regarding an employee’s pay. The Act covers topics such as:
- Meal and break periods
- Fringe benefits
- Sex discrimination
- Final paychecks
- Paycheck deductions
Wage disputes are among the most common issues that employment lawyers face. Typical examples would be failing to pay overtime or misclassifying an employee to justify paying them reduced wages.
What Are Exempt and Nonexempt Employees in Tennessee?
Labor laws pertaining to topics such as minimum wage and overtime apply differently depending on if a Tennessee worker is exempt or nonexempt. Again, the state follows the FLSA’s guidelines regarding exempt and nonexempt employees.
Exempt employees generally meet three requirements:
- They regularly earn at least $455 per week.
- They work in an exempt category (e.g., sales workers, administrators, executives, or professionals).
- The employee’s job duties meet certain criteria. Typically, the employee’s role must demand a certain amount of creativity, independent judgment, or authority.
Most exempt employees are not entitled to overtime pay. By contrast, nonexempt employees in Tennessee must be paid a minimum wage and overtime for working beyond 40 hours in a workweek.
Have you been denied overtime pay or think your boss has made an error in your wage calculation? You could be entitled to significant back pay. One of our skilled Nashville wage and hour attorneys can meet with you to discuss your right to lost wages.
Tennessee Employee Leave Laws
Employers in Tennessee are not required to provide vacation leave, sick leave, or holiday leave to their employees. The only exception is if employers promise this leave to their workers. In these instances, the employer has a legal obligation to grant the leave.
Child Labor Laws in TN
In Tennessee, children cannot work until age 14. How much and how long they can work differs by age and whether school is in session. In some cases, parental consent forms are also required before minors can be hired for employment.
One of the biggest child labor laws in the state prohibits minors from working in certain occupations or in conditions that are considered dangerous, such as:
- Coal mining
- Logging/sawmill operations
- Driving jobs
- Chemical plants or sites where exposure to hazardous substances is possible
- Jobs that require the use of heavy machinery or tools, such as saws and guillotine shears
- Jobs in the entertainment industry (e.g., modeling, acting, singing, etc.)
You should always contact a lawyer if you suspect that your child’s employer is violating child labor laws. Doing so protects your child, but could also help other children in the same position.
How Can the Employment and Consumer Law Group Help Me?
The employment and labor laws in Tennessee are complex — so complicated, in fact, that some employers don’t know that they have broken the law until one of our attorneys knocks on their door. Other times, it’s clear that employers are engaging in shady business practices to deliberately deprive workers of their rights.
Either way, the knowledgeable attorneys at the Employment and Consumer Law Group can help. For years, we have held Nashville-area employers accountable for the unfair treatment of their workers. We can help you, too.
When you work with us, you’ll find a law firm that’s not willing to put up with employers’ excuses and stalling tactics. Call or contact us today for a free case evaluation, with no strings attached.