State Law > Tennessee > Tennessee Employment Discrimination Law

Tennessee Employment Discrimination Law

 

Discrimination by employers is prohibited in the following sections of the Tennessee Code Annotated.
Tennessee Fair Employment Practices Law

  • 4-21-102. Definitions.
  • 4-21-301. Discriminatory practices.
  • 4-21-302. Complaints - Consideration by commission.
  • 4-21-308. Access to records.
  • 4-21-401. Unlawful employment practices
  • 4-21-403. Employment agency practices.
  • 4-21-404. Training program practices.
  • 4-21-405. Religious groups exempted.
  • 4-21-406. Religion or sex as bona fide occupational qualifications - Affirmative action plans.
  • 4-21-407. Age discrimination.
  • 4-21-408. Maternity leave.

Veterans Preference

  • 50-1-107. Veterans preference

Equal Pay

  • 50-2-201. Definitions
  • 50-2-202. Prohibited acts.
  • 50-2-204. Employee remedies.
Handicap discrimination
  • 8-50-103. Employment discrimination prohibited.
Lawful Product Use Discrimination
  • 50-1-304. Use of lawful products.
State employment
  • 4-3-124. Policy on sexual harassment.
  • 4-3-904. Sexual harassment rules - Distribution.
  • 4-34-201. Inclusion of "Native American Indian" as racial or ethnic origin.

Tennessee Fair Employment Practices Law

4-21-102. Definitions.
As used in this chapter, unless the context otherwise requires:

(1) "Commission" means the Tennessee human rights commission;

(2) "Commissioner" means a member of the commission;

(3) "Discriminatory practices" means any direct or indirect act or practice of exclusion, distinction, restriction, segregation, limitation, refusal, denial, or any other act or practice of differentiation or preference in the treatment of a person or persons because of race, creed, color, religion, sex, age or national origin;

(4) "Employer" includes the state, or any political or civil subdivision thereof, and persons employing eight (8) or more persons within the state, or any person acting as an agent of an employer, directly or indirectly;

(5) "Employment agency" includes any person or agency, public or private, regularly undertaking with or without compensation to procure employees for an employer or to procure for employees opportunities to work for an employer and includes any person;

(6) "Familial status" means one (1) or more individuals, who have not attained eighteen (18) years of age, being domiciled with:

(A) A parent or another person having legal custody of such individual or individuals; or

(B) The designee of such parent or other person having such custody, with the written permission of such parent or other person. The protections against discrimination on the basis of familial status shall apply to any person who is pregnant or who is in the process of securing legal custody of any person who has not attained eighteen (18) years of age;

(7) "Family" includes a single individual;

(8) "Financial institution" means a bank, banking organization, mortgage company, insurance company or other lender to whom application is made for financial assistance for the purchase, lease, acquisition, construction, rehabilitation, repair, maintenance or improvements of real property, or an individual employed by or acting on behalf of any of these;

(9)

(A) "Handicap" means, with respect to a person:

(i) A physical or mental impairment which substantially limits one (1) or more of such person's major life activities;
(ii) A record of having such an impairment; or
(iii) Being regarded as having such an impairment;

(B) "Handicap" does not include current, illegal use of, or addiction to, a controlled substance;


(10) "Hearing examiner" is one (1) or more persons or commissioners, designated by the commission to conduct a hearing. The commission has the sole power to determine qualifications of the hearing examiner;

(11) "Housing accommodation" includes improved and unimproved property and means a building, structure, lot or part thereof which is used or occupied, or is intended, arranged or designed to be used or occupied, as the home or residence of one (1) or more individuals;

(12) "Labor organization" includes any organization which exists for the purpose, in whole or in part, of collective bargaining or of dealing with employers concerning grievances, terms or conditions of employment, or for other mutual aid or protection in relation to employment or any agent acting for organizations;

(13) "National origin" includes the national origin of an ancestor;

(14) "Person" includes one (1) or more individuals, governments, governmental agencies, public authorities, labor organizations, corporations, legal representatives, partnerships, associations, trustees, trustees in bankruptcy, receivers, mutual companies, joint stock companies, trusts, unincorporated organizations or other organized groups of persons;

(15) "Places of public accommodation, resort or amusement" includes any place, store or other establishment, either licensed or unlicensed, which supplies goods or services to the general public or which solicits or accepts the patronage or trade of the general public, or which is supported directly or indirectly by government funds, except that:

(A) A bona fide private club is not a place of public accommodation, resort or amusement if its policies are determined solely by its members; and
(B) Its facilities or services are available only to its members and their bona fide guests;

(16) "Real estate broker" or "real estate salesperson" means an individual, whether licensed or not, who, on behalf of others, for a fee, commission, salary, or other valuable consideration, or who with the intention or expectation of receiving or collecting the same, lists, sells, purchases, exchanges, rents or leases real estate, or the improvements thereon, including options, or who negotiates or attempts to negotiate on behalf of others such activity; or who advertises or holds such individual out as engaged in such activities; or who negotiates or attempts to negotiate on behalf of others a loan secured by mortgage or other encumbrance upon a transfer of real estate, or who is engaged in the business of charging an advance fee or contracting for collection of a fee in connection with a contract whereby such individual undertakes to promote the sale, purchase, exchange, rental, or lease of real estate through its listing in a publication issued primarily for such purpose; or an individual employed by or acting on behalf of any of these;

(17) "Real estate operator" means any individual or combination of individuals, labor unions, joint apprenticeship committees, partnerships, associations, corporations, legal representatives, mutual companies, joint-stock companies, trusts, unincorporated organizations, trustees in bankruptcy, receivers or other legal or commercial entities, or the county or any of its agencies, that is engaged in the business of selling, purchasing, exchanging, renting or leasing real estate, or the improvements thereon, including options, or that derives income, in whole or in part, from the sale, purchase, exchange, rental or lease of real estate; or an individual employed by or acting on behalf of any of these;

(18) "Real estate transaction" includes the sale, exchange, rental or lease of real property; and

(19) "Real property" includes buildings, structures, real estate, lands, tenements, leaseholds, cooperatives, condominiums, and hereditaments, corporeal and incorporeal, or any interest in the above.

4-21-301. Discriminatory practices.

It is a discriminatory practice for a person or for two (2) or more persons to:

(1) Retaliate or discriminate in any manner against a person because such person has opposed a practice declared discriminatory by this chapter or because such person has made a charge, filed a complaint, testified, assisted or participated in any manner in any investigation, proceeding or hearing under this chapter;

(2) Aid, abet, incite, compel or command a person to engage in any of the acts or practices declared discriminatory by this chapter;

(3) Willfully interfere with the performance of a duty or the exercise of a power by the commission or one (1) of its members or representatives;

(4) Willfully obstruct or prevent a person from complying with the provisions of this chapter or an order issued thereunder; or

(5) Violate the terms of a conciliation agreement made pursuant to this chapter.

4-21-302. Complaints - Consideration by commission.

(a) A person claiming to be aggrieved by a discriminatory practice, or a member of the commission may file with the commission a written sworn complaint stating that a discriminatory practice has been committed, setting forth the facts sufficient to enable the commission to identify the persons charged (hereinafter the respondent). Within ten (10) days after receipt of the complaint, the commission shall serve on the complainant a notice acknowledging the filing of the complaint and informing the complainant of the respondent's time limits and choice of forums under this chapter.

(b) The commission staff, or a person designated pursuant to its rules, shall promptly investigate the matter to determine whether the discriminatory practice exists and shall within ten (10) days furnish the respondent with a copy of the complaint and a notice advising the respondent of the respondent's procedural rights and obligations under this chapter.

(c) The complaint must be filed within one hundred eighty (180) days after the commission of the alleged discriminatory practice.

(d)

(1) The commission staff, or a person designated pursuant to its rules, shall commence an investigation of the complaint within thirty (30) days after the filing of the complaint. The commission staff, or designee, shall promptly investigate the matter to determine whether the discriminatory practice exists.

(2) If it is determined that there is no reasonable cause to believe that the respondent has engaged in a discriminatory practice, the commission shall furnish a copy of the order to the complainant, the respondent, and such public officers and persons as the commission deems proper.

(e)

(1) The complainant, within thirty (30) days after receiving a copy of the order dismissing the complaint, may file with the commission an application for reconsideration of the order.

(2) Upon such application, the commission or an individual designated pursuant to its rules shall make a new determination within thirty (30) days whether there is reasonable cause to believe that the respondent has engaged in a discriminatory practice.

(3) If it is determined that there is no reasonable cause to believe that the respondent has engaged in a discriminatory practice, the commission shall issue an order dismissing the complaint after reconsideration, and furnishing a copy of the order to the complainant, the respondent, and such public officers and persons as the commission deems proper.

4-21-303. Conciliation agreements - Temporary relief.

(a) If the staff determines after investigation, or if the commission or its delegate determines after the review provided for in Sec. 4-21-302 that there is reasonable cause to believe that the respondent has engaged in a discriminatory practice, the commission staff shall endeavor to eliminate the alleged discriminatory practices by conference, conciliation and persuasion.

(b) The terms of a conciliation agreement reached with a respondent shall require the respondent to refrain from discriminatory practices in the future, and shall make such further provisions as may be agreed upon between the commission or its assigned staff and the respondent.

(c) If a conciliation agreement is entered into, the commission shall issue and serve on the complainant an order stating its terms. A copy of the order shall be delivered to the respondent, and such public officers and persons as the commission deems proper.

(d) Except for the terms of the conciliation agreement, neither the commission nor any officer or employee thereof shall make public, without the written consent of the complainant and the respondent, information concerning efforts in a particular case to eliminate discriminatory practice by conference, conciliation or persuasion, whether or not there is a determination of reasonable cause or a conciliation agreement. The conciliation agreement itself shall be made public unless the complainant and the respondent otherwise agree, and the commission also determines that disclosure is not required to further the purposes of this chapter.

(e) At the expiration of one (1) year from the date of a conciliation agreement, and at other times in its reasonable discretion, the commission staff may investigate whether the terms of the agreement have been and are being complied with by the respondent.

(f) Upon finding that the terms of the agreement are not being complied with by the respondent, the commission shall take such action as it deems appropriate to assure compliance.

(g) At any time after a complaint is filed, the commission may file an action in the chancery court or circuit court in a county in which the subject of the complaint occurs, or in a county in which a respondent resides or has the respondent's principal place of business, seeking appropriate temporary relief against the respondent, pending final determination of proceedings under the chapter, including an order or decree restraining such respondent from doing or procuring any act tending to render ineffectual any order the commission may enter with respect to the complaint. The court has the power to grant such temporary relief or restraining order as it deems just and proper.

4-21-304. Hearings.

(a) In complaints involving discrimination in employment and public accommodations, within ninety (90) days after an administrative determination of reasonable cause to believe that discrimination took place, unless the commission has issued an order stating the terms of a conciliation agreement, or in those cases in which the terms of a conciliation agreement have been kept confidential, has issued an order stating that the case has been satisfactorily conciliated, the commission shall serve on the respondent by mail or in person a written notice, together with a copy of the complaint as it may have been amended, or a copy of the letter of determination, requiring the respondent to answer the allegation of the complaint at a hearing before a hearing examiner or hearing examiners, or another individual pursuant to its rules, at a time and place specified by the hearing examiner or examiners after conference with the parties or their attorneys. A copy of the notice shall be furnished to the complainant, and such public officers and persons as the commission deems proper. In complaints involving housing discrimination only, if the commission has determined that there is reasonable cause to believe that the respondent has engaged in a discriminatory housing practice, and if the complaint has not been resolved through a conciliation agreement, and if neither party has made an election for a civil action pursuant to Sec. 4-21-312 within ninety (90) days after the complaint is filed, the commission shall commence a hearing in accordance with the provisions of this subsection. All hearings conducted under this section shall be conducted in accordance with the Uniform Administrative Procedures Act, compiled in chapter 5, part 3 of this title.

(b) A member of the commission who filed the complaint or endeavored to eliminate the alleged discriminatory practice by conference, conciliation or persuasion shall not participate in the hearing or in the subsequent deliberation of the commission.

(c) The respondent may file an answer with the commission by registered or certified mail in accordance with the rules of the commission before the hearing date. The respondent may amend an answer at any time prior to the issuance of an order based on the complaint, but no order shall be issued unless the respondent has had an opportunity of a hearing on the complaint or amendment on which the order is based.

(d) A respondent, who has filed an answer or whose default in answering has been set aside for good cause shown, may appear at the hearing with or without representation, may examine and cross-examine witnesses and the complainant, and may offer evidence.

(e) The complainant and the complainant's private attorney, and, in the discretion of the commission, any person, may intervene, examine, and cross-examine witnesses, and present evidence.

(f) If the respondent fails to answer the complaint, the commission may enter the respondent's default. Unless the default is set aside for good cause shown, the hearing may proceed on the evidence in support of the complaint.

(g) Efforts at conference, conciliation and persuasion shall not be received in evidence.

(h) Testimony taken at the hearing shall be under oath and transcribed. If the testimony is not taken before the commission, the record shall be transmitted to the commission.

(i) In a proceeding under this chapter, the production of a written, printed or visual communication, advertisement or other form of publication, or a written inquiry, or record, or other document purporting to have been made by a person shall be prima facie evidence that it was authorized by the person.

4-21-305. Findings and orders.

(a) If the commission determines that the respondent has not engaged in a discriminatory practice, the commission shall state its findings of fact and conclusions of law and shall issue an order dismissing the complaint. A copy of the order shall be delivered to the complainant, the respondent, and such public officers and persons as the commission deems proper.

(b) If the commission determines that the respondent has engaged in a discriminatory practice, the commission shall state its findings of fact and conclusions of law and shall issue an order requiring the respondent to cease and desist from the discriminatory practice and to take such affirmative action as in the judgment of the commission will carry out the purposes of this chapter. A copy of the order shall be delivered to the respondent, the complainant, and to such public officers and persons as the commission deems proper.

4-21-306. Remedies.

(a) Affirmative action ordered under this section may include, but is not limited to:

(1) Hiring, reinstatement or upgrading of employees with or without back pay. Interim earnings or amounts earnable with reasonable diligence by the person or persons discriminated against shall operate to reduce the back pay otherwise allowable;

(2) Admission or restoration of individuals to union membership, admission to, or participation in, a guidance program, apprenticeship, training program, on-the-job training program, or other occupational training or retraining program, and the utilization of objective criteria in the admission of individuals to such programs;

(3) Admission of individuals to a place of public accommodation, resort or amusement;

(4) The extension to all individuals of the full and equal enjoyment of the advantages, facilities, privileges and services of the respondent;

(5) Reporting as to the manner of compliance;

(6) Posting notices in conspicuous places in the respondent's place of business in the form prescribed by the commission and inclusion of such notices in advertising material;

(7) Payment to the complainant of damages for an injury, including humiliation and embarrassment, caused by the discriminatory practice, and cost, including a reasonable attorney's fee;

(8) Such other remedies as shall be necessary and proper to eliminate all the discrimination identified by the evidence submitted at the hearing or in the record; and

(9) In cases involving discriminatory housing practices only, payment by the respondent of a civil penalty:

(A) In an amount not exceeding ten thousand dollars ($10,000) if the respondent has not been adjudged to have committed any prior unlawful discriminatory housing practices;

(B) In an amount not exceeding twenty-five thousand dollars ($25,000) if the respondent has been adjudged to have committed one (1) other unlawful discriminatory housing practice during the five-year period ending on the date of the filing of the complaint; or

(C) In an amount not exceeding fifty thousand dollars ($50,000) if the respondent has been adjudged to have committed two (2) or more unlawful discriminatory housing practices during the seven-year period ending on the date of the filing of the complaint.
If the acts constituting the discriminatory housing practice that is the object of the complaint are committed by the same natural person who has been previously adjudged to have committed acts constituting an unlawful discriminatory housing practice, then the civil penalties set forth in subdivisions (a)(9)(B) and (C) may be imposed without regard to the period of time within which any subsequent discriminatory housing practice occurred.

(b) The commission may publish, or cause to be published, the names of persons who have been determined to have engaged in a discriminatory practice.

4-21-307. Judicial review.

(a) A complainant, respondent or intervenor aggrieved by an order of the commission, including an order dismissing a complaint or stating the terms of a conciliation agreement, may obtain judicial review, and the commission may obtain an order of the court for enforcement of its order, in a proceeding brought in the chancery court or circuit court in which the alleged discriminatory practice, which is the subject of the order, occurred or in which a respondent resides or transacts business.

(b)

(1) The proceeding for review or enforcement is initiated by filing a petition in court.

(2) Copies of the appeal shall be served upon all parties of record.

(3) Within thirty (30) days after the service of the petition for appeal upon the commission or its filing by the commission, or within such further time as the court may allow, the commission shall transmit to the court the original or a certified copy of the entire record upon which the order is based, including a transcript of testimony, which need not be printed.

(4) By stipulation of all parties to the review proceeding, the record may be shortened.

(5) The findings of fact of the commission shall be conclusive unless clearly erroneous in view of the probative and substantial evidence on the whole record.

(6) The court has the power to grant such temporary relief or restraining order as it deems just and to enter an order enforcing, modifying and enforcing as modified, or setting aside in whole or in part the order of the commission, or remanding the case to the commission for further proceedings.

(7) All such proceedings shall be heard and determined by the chancery court or circuit court and court of appeals as expeditiously as possible and with lawful precedence over other matters.

(c) If the commission has failed to schedule a hearing in accordance with Sec. 4-21-304 or has failed to issue an order within one hundred eighty (180) days after the complaint is filed, the complainant, respondent or an intervenor may petition the chancery court or circuit court in a county in which the alleged discriminatory practice set forth in the complaint occurs or in which the petitioner resides or has the petitioner's principal place of business for an order directing the commission to take such action. The court shall follow the procedure set forth in subsection (b) so far as applicable.

(d)

(1) The court shall not consider any matter not considered by, nor any objection not raised before, the hearing examiner or examiners unless the failure of a party to present such matter to or raise such objection before the hearing examiner or examiners are excused because of good cause shown.

(2) A party may move the court to remand the case to the commission in the interest of justice for the purpose of adducing additional specified material evidence and seeking findings thereon; provided, that the party shows good cause for the failure to adduce such evidence before the commission.

(e)

(1) The jurisdiction of the chancery court or circuit court shall be exclusive, and its final judgment or decree shall be subject to review by the court of appeals as provided by the Rules of Civil Procedure.

(2) The commission's copy of the testimony shall be available to all parties for examination without cost during business hours at the commission's office in Nashville.

(f)

(1) A proceeding under this section must be initiated within thirty (30) days after a copy of the order of the commission is petitioned or the petition is filed under Sec. 4-21-304.

(2) If no proceeding is so initiated, the commission may obtain a decree of the court of enforcement of its order upon showing that a copy of the petition for enforcement was served on the respondent and the respondent is subject to the jurisdiction of the court.

4-21-308. Access to records.

(a) In connection with an investigation of a complaint filed under this chapter, the commission or its designated representative at any reasonable time may request access to premises, records and documents relevant to the complaint and the right to examine a photograph and copy evidence.

(b) Every person subject to this chapter shall:

(1) Make and keep records relevant to the determination of whether discriminatory practices have been or are being committed;

(2) Preserve such records for such periods; and

(3) Make such reports therefrom, as the commission shall prescribe by regulation or order, as reasonably necessary, or appropriate for the enforcement of this chapter or the regulation or orders thereunder.

(c) So as to avoid undue burdens on persons subject to this chapter, records and reports required by the commission under this section shall conform as near as may be to similar records and reports required by federal law and the laws of other states and to customary recordkeeping practice.

(d) If a person fails to permit access, examination, photographing or copying or fails to make, keep or preserve records or make reports in accordance with this section, the chancery court or circuit court for the county in which such person is found, resides, or has such person's principal place of business, upon application of the commission, may issue an order requiring compliance.

(e) The commission, by regulation, shall require each person subject to this chapter who controls an apprenticeship or other training program to keep all records reasonably necessary to carry out the purpose of the chapter, including, but not limited to, a list of applicants who wish to participate in such program, including the chronological order in which applications were received, and shall furnish to the commission upon request, a detailed description of the manner in which persons are selected to participate in the apprenticeship or other training programs.

(f) A person who believes that the application to it of a regulation or order issued under this section would result in undue hardship may apply to the commission for an exemption from the application of the regulation or order. If the commission finds the application of the regulation or order to the person in question would impose an undue hardship, the commission may grant appropriate relief.

4-21-401. Unlawful employment practices

(1) Fail or refuse to hire or discharge any person or otherwise to discriminate against an individual with respect to compensation, terms, conditions or privileges of employment because of such individual's race, creed, color, religion, sex, age, disability or national origin; or
(2) Limit, segregate or classify an employee or applicants for employment in any way which would deprive or tend to deprive an individual of employment opportunities or otherwise adversely affect the status of an employee, because of race, creed, color, religion, sex, age, disability or national origin.
(b) This section does not apply to the employment of an individual by such individual's parent, spouse or child or to employment in the domestic service of the employer.

4-21-403. Unlawful employment agency practices.

It is a discriminatory practice for an employment agency to classify or refer for employment, or to fail or refuse to refer for employment, or otherwise to discriminate against any person because of race, creed, color, religion, sex, age, disability or national origin.

4-21-404. Unlawful training program practice.

It is a discriminatory practice for:

(1) An employer, labor organization, or joint labor-management committee controlling apprenticeship, or on-the-job, or other training or retraining programs, to discriminate against an individual because of race, creed, color, religion, sex, disability or national origin, in admission to, or employment in, a program established to provide apprenticeship or other training;
(2) An employer, labor organization, employment agency or joint labor-management committee controlling apprenticeship or other training or retraining programs, including on-the-job training programs, to print, publish or circulate or cause to be printed, published or circulated any statement, advertisement or publication relating to employment by such an employer, or membership in such organization or any classification or referral for employment by such labor organization, or relating to any classification or referral for employment by such an employment agency or relating to admission to, or employment in, any program established to provide apprenticeship or other training by such a joint labor-management committee indicating any preference, limitation, specification or discrimination based on race, creed, color, religion, sex, disability or national origin; except that such advertisement or publication may indicate preference, limitation or specification based on religion or sex or when religion or sex is a bona fide occupational qualification for employment.


4-21-405. Religious groups exempted.

This chapter shall not apply to religious corporations, associations, educational institutions, or societies, with respect to the employment of individuals of a particular religion to perform work connected with the carrying on by the corporation, association, educational institution, or society, of its religious activities.


4-21-406. Religion or sex as bona fide occupational qualifications - Affirmative action plans.

(a) It is not a discriminatory practice for:

(1) An employer to employ employees;

(2) An employment agency to classify, or refer for employment any individual;

(3) A labor organization to classify its members or to classify or refer for employment any individual; or

(4) An employer, labor organization, or joint training or retraining programs to admit or employ any individual in any such program;
on the basis of religion or sex in those certain instances where religion or sex is a bona fide occupational qualification reasonably necessary to the normal operation of that particular business or enterprise.

(b) It is not a discriminatory practice for a person subject to this chapter to adopt and carry out a plan to fill vacancies or hire new employees so as to eliminate or reduce imbalance with respect to race, creed, color, religion, sex, age or national origin, if the plan has been filed with the commission and the commission has not disapproved the plan.

4-21-407. Age discrimination.

(a) It is not unlawful for an employer, employment agency or labor organization to:

(1) Discriminate in employment on the basis of age where age is a bona fide occupational qualification reasonably necessary to the normal operation of the particular business, or where the differentiation is based on reasonable factors other than age; or

(2) Observe the terms of a bona fide seniority system or any bona fide employee benefit plan, such as a retirement, pension or insurance plan, which is not a subterfuge to evade the purposes of this chapter, except that no such employee benefit plan shall excuse the failure to hire any individual, and no such seniority system or employee benefit plan shall require or permit the involuntary retirement of any individual specified by Sec. 4-21-101(b) because of the age of such individual, unless otherwise provided by law.

(b) The prohibitions imposed by this chapter relating to age discrimination in employment shall be limited to individuals who are at least forty (40) years of age.

(c) Notwithstanding any other provisions of this chapter relating to age discrimination in employment, it is not unlawful for an employer, employment agency or labor organization subject to the other provisions of this chapter to observe the terms of a bona fide seniority system or any bona fide employee benefit plan, such as a retirement, pension or insurance plan, which is not a subterfuge to evade the purposes of this chapter, except that no such employee benefit plan shall excuse the failure to hire any individual, and no such seniority system or employee benefit plan shall require or permit the involuntary retirement of any individual covered by this chapter because of the age of such individual.

(d) Nothing in this chapter relating to age discrimination shall be construed to prohibit compulsory retirement of any employee who has attained sixty-five (65) years of age and who, for the two-year period immediately before retirement, is employed in a bona fide executive or a high policymaking position, if such employee is entitled to an immediate nonforfeitable annual retirement benefit from a pension, profit-sharing, savings or deferred compensation plan, or any combination of such plans, of the employer of such employee, which equals, in the aggregate, at least forty-four thousand dollars ($44,000).

(e)

(1) It is not unlawful for an employer subject to the provisions of this chapter to fail or refuse to hire or to discharge any individual because of such individual's age if such action is taken:

(A) With respect to the employment of an individual as a firefighter or a law enforcement officer and the individual has attained the age of hiring or retirement in effect under applicable state or local law on March 3, 1983; and

(B) Pursuant to a bona fide hiring or retirement plan that is not a subterfuge to evade the purposes of this chapter.

(2) For the purposes of this part the following definitions shall apply:

(A) "Firefighter" means an employee, the duties of whose position are primarily to perform work directly connected with the control and extinguishment of fires or the maintenance and use of firefighting apparatus and equipment, including an employee engaged in this activity who is transferred to a supervisory or administrative position; and

(B) "Law enforcement officer" means an employee, the duties of whose position are primarily the investigation, apprehension or detention of individuals suspected or convicted of offenses against state criminal laws, including an employee engaged in this activity who is transferred to a supervisory or administrative position. For the purposes of this subdivision, "detention" includes the duties of employees assigned to guard individuals incarcerated in any penal institution.

(3) The provisions of this subsection shall not apply with respect to any cause of action arising under the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967 as in effect before January 1, 1987.

4-21-408. Maternity leave.

(a) Employees who have been employed by the same employer for at least twelve (12) consecutive months as full-time employees, as determined by the employer at the job site or location, may be absent from such employment for a period not to exceed four (4) months for adoption, pregnancy, childbirth and nursing the infant, where applicable (such period to be hereinafter referred to as "leave"). With regard to adoption, the four (4) month period shall begin at the time an employee receives custody of the child.

(b)

(1) Employees who give at least three (3) months' advance notice to their employer of their anticipated date of departure for such leave, their length of leave, and their intention to return to full-time employment after leave, shall be restored to their previous or similar positions with the same status, pay, length of service credit and seniority, wherever applicable, as of the date of their leave.

(2) Employees who are prevented from giving three (3) months' advance notice because of a medical emergency which necessitates that leave begin earlier than originally anticipated shall not forfeit their rights and benefits under this section solely because of their failure to give three (3) months' advance notice.

(3) Employees who are prevented from giving three (3) months' advance notice because the notice of adoption was received less than three (3) months in advance shall not forfeit their rights and benefits under this section solely because of their failure to give three (3) month's advance notice.

(c)

(1) Leave may be with or without pay at the discretion of the employer. Such leave shall not affect the employees' right to receive vacation time, sick leave, bonuses, advancement, seniority, length of service credit, benefits, plans or programs for which the employees were eligible at the date of their leave, and any other benefits or rights of their employment incident to the employees' employment position; provided, that the employer need not provide for the cost of any benefits, plans or programs during the period of such leave unless such employer so provides for all employees on leaves of absence.

(2) If an employee's job position is so unique that the employer cannot, after reasonable efforts, fill that position temporarily, then the employer shall not be liable under this section for failure to reinstate the employee at the end of such leave period.

(3) The purpose of this section is to provide leave time to employees for adoption, pregnancy, childbirth and nursing the infant, where applicable; therefore, if an employer finds that the employee has utilized the period of leave to actively pursue other employment opportunities or if the employer finds that the employee has worked part time or full time for another employer during the period of leave, then the employer shall not be liable under this section for failure to reinstate the employee at the end of such leave.

(4) Whenever the employer shall determine that the employee will not be reinstated at the end of such leave because the employee's position cannot be filled temporarily or because the employee has used such leave to pursue employment opportunities or to work for another employer, the employer shall so notify the employee.

(d) Nothing contained within the provisions of this section shall be construed to:

(1) Affect any bargaining agreement or company policy which provides for greater or additional benefits than those required under this section;

(2) Apply to any employer who employs fewer than one hundred (100) full-time employees on a permanent basis at the job site or location; or

(3) Diminish or restrict the rights of teachers to leave pursuant to title 49, chapter 5, part 7, or to return or reinstatement after leave.

(e) The provisions of this section shall be included in the next employee handbook published by the employer after passage of this section.

Veterans Preference

50-1-107.  Veterans preference.

 (a) A private employer may adopt an employment policy that gives preference in hiring to:

      (1) An honorably discharged veteran;

      (2) The spouse of a veteran with a service-connected disability;

      (3) The unremarried widow or widower of a veteran who died of a service-connected disability; or

      (4) The unremarried widow or widower of a member of the United States armed forces who died in the line of duty.

   (b) A private employer adopting a veterans preference shall have the policy in writing and may require submission of a certificate of release or discharge from active duty, department of defense form 214 (DD 214), as proof of eligibility for the veterans preference employment policy.

   (c) A policy adopted pursuant to subsection (a) must be applied uniformly to employment decisions regarding hiring and promotion.

   (d) The preferences authorized by this section are not considered violations of any state or local equal employment opportunity law.

   (e) Nothing in this section requires a private employer to provide a preference in hiring to any of the persons listed in subsection (a).

Equal Pay

50-2-201. Definitions.

As used in this part, unless the context otherwise requires:

(1) "Commissioner" means the commissioner of labor and workforce development;

(2) "Employ" includes to suffer or permit to work;

(3) "Employee" means any individual employed by any employer within the state of Tennessee, including individuals employed by the state of Tennessee but not by its political subdivisions, but does not include any individual who is entitled to the equal pay provisions of the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938 (29 U.S.C. Sec. 201 et seq.), as amended;

(4) "Employer" includes any person acting in the interest of any employer directly or indirectly, and includes the state of Tennessee but not its political subdivisions; and

(5) "Wage rate" means all compensation for employment, including payments in kind and amounts paid by employers for employee benefits as defined by the commissioner in regulations issued under this part.

50-2-202. Prohibited acts.

(a) No employer shall discriminate between employees in the same establishment on the basis of sex by paying any employee salary or wage rates less than the rates such employer pays to any employee of the opposite sex for comparable work on jobs the performance of which require comparable skill, effort and responsibility, and which are performed under similar working conditions. However, nothing in this part shall prohibit wage differentials based on a seniority system, a merit system, a system which measures earnings by quality or quantity of production, or any other reasonable differential which is based on a factor other than sex.

(b) An employer who is paying a wage differential in violation of this part shall not in order to comply with it reduce the wage rate of any employee.

(c) No employer may discharge or discriminate against any employee by reason of any action taken by such employee to invoke or assist in any manner the enforcement of this part.

50-2-203. Commissioner to administer law.

(a) The commissioner has the power and duty to carry out and administer the provisions of this part, including the power to issue such regulations, not inconsistent with the purpose of this part, as the commissioner considers necessary or appropriate to carry out its provisions.

(b) The commissioner is authorized to endeavor to eliminate pay practices unlawful under this part by informal methods of conference, conciliation and persuasion, and to supervise the payment of wages owing to any employee under this part.

50-2-204. Employee remedies.

(a) Any employer who violates the provisions of section 50-2-202 shall be liable to the employee or employees affected in the amount of their unpaid wages, and in instances of an employer knowingly violating section 50-2-202 in employee suits under subsection (b), up to an additional equal amount of unpaid wages as liquidated damages. For the second established violation of this part in a separate judicial proceeding distinct from the first, any employer who violates the provisions of section 50-2-202 shall be liable to the employee or employees affected in the amount of their unpaid wages, and instances of an employer knowingly violating section 50-2-202 in employee suits under subsection (b), up to an additional double an equal amount of unpaid wages as liquidated damages. For the third established violation of this part in a separate judicial proceeding distinct from the first and second, any employer who violates the provisions of section 50-2-202 shall be liable to the employee or employees affected in the amount of their unpaid wages, and instances of an employer knowingly violating section 50-2-202 in employee suits under subsection (b), up to an additional treble an equal amount of unpaid wages as liquidated damages.

(b) Action to recover such wages may be maintained in any court of competent jurisdiction by any one (1) or more employees. The court shall, in cases of violation, in addition to any judgment awarded to the plaintiff or plaintiffs, allow a reasonable attorney's fee to be paid by the defendant and cost of the action.

(c) No agreement by any such employee to work for less than the wages to which the employee is entitled under this part shall be a bar to any such action, or to a voluntary wage restitution of the full amount due under this part.

(d) At the written request of any employee claiming to have been paid less than the wage to which the employee is entitled under this part, the commissioner may bring any legal action necessary in behalf of the employee to collect such claim for unpaid wages. The commissioner shall not be required to pay any filing fee, or other cost in connection with such action. The commissioner shall have the power to join various claims against the employer in one (1) cause of action.

50-2-205. Limitation of actions.

Court action under this part may be commenced no later than two (2) years after the cause of action occurs.

50-2-206. Penalty.

Any employer who violates any provisions of this part, or who discharges or in any other manner discriminates against any employee because such employee has made a complaint to that employee's employer, the commissioner, or any other person, or instituted or caused to be instituted any proceedings under or related to this part, or has testified or is about to testify in any such proceeding, commits a Class A misdemeanor.

Handicap discrimination

8-50-103. Employment discrimination prohibited for disabled person; Complaints; Penalty.

(a) This section and Section 8-50-104 shall be known and may be cited as the "Tennessee Disability Act"br> (b) There shall be no discrimination in the hiring, firing and other terms and conditions of employment of the state of Tennessee or any department, agency, institution or political subdivision of the state, or of any private employer, against any applicant for employment based solely upon any physical, mental or visual disability of the applicant, unless such disability to some degree prevents the applicant from performing the duties required by the employment sought or impairs the performance of the work involved. Furthermore, no blind person shall be discriminated against in any such employment practices because such person uses a guide dog. A violation of this subsection is a Class C misdemeanor.
(c)
(1) Any person claiming to be aggrieved by a discriminatory practice prohibited by this section may file with the Tennessee human rights commission a written sworn complaint stating that a discriminatory practice has been committed, setting forth the facts sufficient to enable the commission to identify the persons charged.
(2) Upon receipt of such complaint, the commission shall follow the procedure and exercise the powers and duties provided in and the person shall have all rights provided therein.

Lawful Product Use Discrimination

50-1-304. Use of lawful products.

(e)

(1) No employee shall be discharged or terminated solely for participating or engaging in the use of an agricultural product not regulated by the alcoholic beverage commission that is not otherwise proscribed by law, if such employee participates or engages in such use in a manner which complies with all applicable employer policies regarding such use during times at which such employee is working.

(2) No employee shall be discharged or terminated solely for participating or engaging in the use of such product not regulated by the alcoholic beverage commission which is not otherwise proscribed by law if such employee participates or engages in such activity during times when such employee is not working.

(f)

(1) This section shall not be used for frivolous lawsuits, and anyone trying to do so is subject to sanction as provided in subdivision (f)(2).

(2) If any employee files a cause of action for retaliatory discharge for any improper purpose, such as to harass or to cause needless increase in costs to the employer, the court, upon motion or upon its own initiative, shall impose upon the employee an appropriate sanction, which may include an order to pay the other party or parties the amount of reasonable expenses incurred, including reasonable attorney's fee.

(g) As used in this section:

(1) "Employee" includes an employee of the state, or any municipality, county, department, board, commission, agency, instrumentality, political subdivision or any other entity thereof; and

(2) "Employer" includes also the state, or any municipality, county, department, board, commission, agency, instrumentality, political subdivision or any other entity thereof.

State employment

4-3-124. Policy on sexual harassment.

Each entity of state government shall post in the workplace the state policy for the prevention of sexual harassment established pursuant to Acts 1993, chapter 307.

4-3-904. Sexual harassment rules - Distribution.

The department of employment security shall, in consultation with the human rights commission, promulgate rules which provide for the distribution, in one (1) of the department's regular mailings to the employers, of the state materials explaining the sexual harassment rules of the state human rights commission. These materials, which the employer shall make available to its employees, may be in the form of a poster, brochure, or pamphlet.

4-21-904. Discrimination by funded programs prohibited.

It is a discriminatory practice for any state agency receiving federal funds making it subject to Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964, or for any person receiving such federal funds from a state agency, to exclude a person from participation in, deny benefits to a person, or to subject a person to discrimination under any program or activity receiving such funds, on the basis of race, color, or national origin.

4-34-201. Inclusion of "Native American Indian" as racial or ethnic origin.

(a) Notwithstanding any provision of law to the contrary, a state or local governmental entity requiring or requesting a person to divulge racial or ethnic origin on an employment form, education application, or other such document shall contain a space, box, or blank clearly designated "Native American Indian."

(b) This section may not be construed to require a governmental entity to revise the forms in the manner required by this section before exhausting its supply of forms on hand on January 1, 1995.

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