Wrongful Termination in Tennessee
Wrongful termination occurs when an employer fires an employee for an illegal reason or in violation of an employment contract. In Tennessee, like in most states, employees are presumed to be employed “at-will,” meaning they can be fired at any time, with or without cause. However, there are exceptions to the at-will employment doctrine, including state and federal laws that prohibit certain types of discrimination and retaliation against employees.
This article will provide an overview of wrongful termination cases in Tennessee, including the legal framework, common types of wrongful termination claims, and notable cases.
Legal Framework for Wrongful Termination in Tennessee
If you believe you’ve been wrongfully terminated from your job, it’s essential to hire a reputable wrongful termination lawyer. Tennessee, like other states, has a variety of laws that protect employees from wrongful termination. These laws include state and federal anti-discrimination laws, as well as laws that protect employees from retaliation for exercising certain rights.
Tennessee’s anti-discrimination laws prohibit employers from firing employees based on their race, color, religion, national origin, sex, age, disability, or genetic information. These laws apply to employers with at least eight employees. Additionally, federal laws such as Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Americans with Disabilities Act, and the Age Discrimination in Employment Act also protect employees from discrimination in the workplace.
In addition to anti-discrimination laws, Tennessee has several laws that protect employees from retaliation for exercising certain rights. For example, the Tennessee Public Protection Act (TPPA) prohibits employers from firing employees who report violations of state or federal law or who refuse to participate in illegal activities. Other laws protect employees from retaliation for filing workers’ compensation claims, serving on juries, or exercising their rights to free speech or association.
Common Types of Wrongful Termination Claims
There are several common types of wrongful termination claims that employees may bring against their employers in Tennessee. These include:
- Discrimination: Employees may claim that they were fired because of their race, sex, age, disability, or other protected characteristic.
- Retaliation: Employees may claim that they were fired in retaliation for exercising a legal right, such as filing a complaint about discrimination or harassment.
- Breach of contract: Employees may claim that they were fired in violation of an employment contract or company policy.
- Public policy: Employees may claim that they were fired for a reason that violates a clear public policy, such as reporting illegal activity or refusing to engage in illegal conduct.
- Constructive discharge: Employees may claim that they were forced to resign because of intolerable working conditions, such as harassment or discrimination.
Notable Wrongful Termination Cases in Tennessee
- Paige v. Cingular Wireless LLC: In this case, the plaintiff claimed that she was fired because of her race and gender. The jury awarded her $1.6 million in damages, which was later reduced to $600,000 on appeal.
- Conley v. Gibson County: In this case, the plaintiff claimed that he was fired in retaliation for reporting illegal activity by his employer. The jury awarded him $1.5 million in damages.
- Parks v. City of Memphis: In this case, the plaintiff claimed that she was fired in retaliation for reporting sexual harassment by a coworker. The jury awarded her $1.1 million in damages.
- Smith v. City of Jackson: In this case, the plaintiff claimed that he was fired because of his race and in retaliation for reporting racial discrimination. The jury awarded him $365,000 in damages.
Table of Notable Wrongful Termination Cases in Tennessee
|Paige v. Cingular Wireless LLC
|Race and gender discrimination
|Conley v. Gibson County
|Retaliation for reporting illegal activity
|Parks v. City of Memphis
|Retaliation for reporting sexual harassment
|Smith v. City of Jackson
|Race discrimination and retaliation
Wrongful termination cases in Tennessee can involve a variety of legal claims, including discrimination, retaliation, breach of contract, public policy, and constructive discharge. Employees who believe they have been wrongfully terminated may be able to pursue legal remedies, such as monetary damages or reinstatement, under state and federal law.
To avoid wrongful termination claims, employers in Tennessee should ensure that their employment practices comply with state and federal anti-discrimination laws, have clear policies and procedures for handling complaints and grievances, and avoid retaliating against employees who exercise their legal rights.
Overall, the legal landscape surrounding wrongful termination in Tennessee is complex and evolving, and employees and employers alike should be aware of their rights and responsibilities under state and federal law.