Can I Sue for Wrongful Termination in Tennessee?

Employees who are fired for discriminatory reasons in Tennessee for exercising certain legal rights may have a wrongful termination claim. If this has happened to you it may be possible to sue your employer and seek remedies for your wrongful termination.

What Are My Rights in Wrongful Termination?

Tennessee is an “employment-at-will” state which means that without a contract you can be terminated by your employer at any time for a good reason, bad reason, or no reason at all. This applies to both employers and employees. However, Tennessee, like most states, has employment discrimination laws in place as well. Under these laws Tennessee employers are not allowed to discriminate against you based on your race, color, national origin, sex, pregnancy, religion, disability, age, marital status, AIDS/HIV, or sickle cell trait. This means if you can prove you have been fired due to discrimination you may be eligible to receive compensation from your employer. 

There are other laws in place that protect you from being terminated which include your employer:

  • retaliating by firing you for filing a complaint against it or a fellow employee, including  reporting an incident of sexual harassment;
  • forcing you to resign due to discrimination or harassment at work.
  • firing you for attempting to organize or participate in a union;
  • firing you when you intend to file a claim for worker’s compensation benefits which is a violation of public policy.

Montana is not an employment at-will state and so the rights of workers are different as it is the only state that requires that the employer provides a reason when firing an employee except when an employee is required to undertake a probationary period at work first. If the probation period isn’t specified by the employer it can be up to 6 months. If an employer wants to dismiss an employee, it must provide a reasonable work-related reason which could be that the employee has failed to undertake job duties satisfactorily or takes part in an activity that disrupts the employer’s business operations.

If you have been dismissed and you believe it was due to discrimination you have the right to sue your employer for Tennessee wrongful termination.

Suing for Wrongful Termination

If you are a victim of Tennessee wrongful termination, you should first file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) or the Tennessee Human Rights Commission. The EEOC will complete an investigation into your complaint and your employer. When the investigation has been completed the EEOC will issue you a Right to Sue letter. You can then file a wrongful termination lawsuit against your employer. In the state of Tennessee, you are given 180 days from your termination date to file a wrongful termination lawsuit. This is can be up to 300 days if your wrongful termination is related to violations of federal and state civil rights including discrimination.

Tennessee employment laws allow a number of remedies if you are a victim of Tennessee wrongful termination. These include the following:

  • back pay offered to compensate you for loss of wages from the date of termination up to the trial date; 
  • repayment of any lost benefits;
  • damages for emotional distress caused by the wrongful termination;
  • punitive damages, if the wrongful termination was a serious breach of your rights;
  • out-of-pocket expenses;
  • attorney costs and fees.

Federal law has a cap in place on the value of the compensation you can be awarded for compensatory damages which are out-of-pocket expenses and pain and suffering combined and punitive damages. The caps are based on the size of the employer’s workforce which are:

  • for 15 to 100 employees the cap is $50,000
  • for 101 to 200 employees the cap is $100,000
  • for 201 to 500 employees the cap is $200,000,
  • for more than 500 employees the cap is $300,000.

Get Help Today

Lawsuits for workplace discrimination in Tennessee are often hard to win because you need to prove that your employer terminated you for an illegal reason such as due to your race, sex, national origin, etc. It is difficult to get an employer to admit the reason for the termination especially in an at-will employment state like Tennessee. That is why it is important to seek help from an attorney so that you can get the remedies you deserve.

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