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Tennessee Employment Law FAQs

1. Is It Illegal to Discuss My Pay at Work?

No. Under federal law, most private-sector employees have the right to discuss their terms and conditions of employment, including wages and benefits, without fear of retaliation from their employer. However, government workers and some supervisors are not protected. For more information, see Discussing Wages at Work.


2. What Does At-Will Employment Mean?

At-will employment is the legal presumption that employers and employees can end the employment relationship for any lawful reason or no reason at all. But an employer cannot fire an employee for an unlawful reason, e.g., discrimination, harassment, retaliation, etc. There are dozens of unlawful reasons for terminating an employee. You can review other examples of wrongful termination here.


3. How Much Is an Employment Lawsuit Worth?

The value of an employment lawsuit varies significantly based on many factors, but typical damages include backpay, front pay, compensatory, punitive, and attorney’s fees and costs. To learn about the factors that impact case value, click here.


4. How Often Do Employers Settle out of Court?

Roughly 20% of employment law claims are settled without the need for any legal action. Some claims settle with a demand letter while others require the filing of a Charge of Discrimination with the EEOC and/or a lawsuit in court. For claims filed in court, less than 5% involve testifying in court at trial.


5. How Long Does It Take to Settle an Employment Lawsuit?

Employment lawsuits take about one year, on average, to settle or otherwise be resolved. However, some cases settle within weeks while others are litigated for several years. The type of claims, amount of damages being sought, strength of evidence, and whether an insurance policy applies can all impact how quickly a case settles.


6. Do I Need a Lawyer for an EEOC Claim?

Although not required, you should hire an experienced employment lawyer for the reasons discussed here. You do not want to be stuck with an expiring Right to Sue letter without a lawyer. Many lawyers take EEOC cases on a contingency fee basis. If you cannot find a lawyer to accept your case, this may be an indication that the claims are not viable (weak evidence, low damages, etc.).


7. Does the EEOC Provide Lawyers?

No. The EEOC does not provide charging parties with lawyers, although it may have a directory of lawyers who accept referrals. In very rare cases, the EEOC will sue on behalf of an employee, but you should hire a lawyer to represent your personal legal interests as an “intervening” plaintiff.


8. Who enforces the Tennessee Human Rights Act?

The Tennessee Human Rights Act is enforced by the Tennessee Human Rights Commission and private lawyers who sue on behalf of wronged employees.


9. When Does My Employer Have to Give Me My Final Paycheck in Tennessee?

Under Tennessee’s final paycheck law, employees must be paid in full no later than the next regular pay day or 21 days after the employment ends, whichever occurs later. There is no exemption under the law.  Tenn. Code. Ann. § 50-2-103 (g)


10. What Is Tennessee’s Work Break Law?

Employees must be provided a 30 minute unpaid meal or rest period if scheduled to work 6 consecutive hours, except in workplace environments that by their nature of business provides for ample opportunity to rest or take an appropriate break. Failure to provide a 30 minute meal or rest period is a violation of state law. There are no state requirements for additional breaks. Tenn. Code Ann. § 50-2-103 (h)


11. Is My Tennessee Employer Required to Pay Me My Accrued Leave Upon Termination?

No, unless the employer’s policy (or other agreement) expressly requires it.


Next Steps

If you believe you were wrongfully terminated, the first step is speaking with an experienced employment lawyer.

Contact our skilled employment lawyers in Nashville at the number above or online. We exclusively represent employees in disputes against employers.

Client Reviews
★★★★★
Curt worked diligently and maintained excellent communication with my case. He made sure to keep us updated about any and everything. I highly recommend Rickard Masker, PLC. Would give more stars if possible. Jeffrey
★★★★★
Curt really came through for me when a previous employer had reported my job title and hire dates incorrectly, he got it corrected within 12 hours of speaking to him about it! I would recommend him for any of your legal needs as he is quite efficient! Renee
★★★★★
Curt was very responsive from the beginning. He made it a very easy process, and he provided excellent guidance in the review of my severance agreement. Due, in part, to Curt's thoughtful suggestions in regards to changing some key language in the agreement that would protect both me and my former employer, they agreed to the changes. To protect yourself during job transition, a review of a severance agreement is a smart thing to do, and Curt will do an excellent job on your behalf. Thomas
★★★★★
Curt handled a case for me and did an unbelievable job in getting a resolution and a great settlement. I would highly recommend him to anyone. Teena