Back Tennessee Labor & Employment Laws

Tennessee Labor & Employment Laws

Whenever you work for or run a company, there are legal requirements that must be followed. Some of these take the form of federal laws, while others take the form of state laws. They all fall under the umbrella of labor and employment laws.

What Are Labor Laws in Tennessee ?

Labor laws are a set of rules that employers must abide by if they wish to avoid legal issues. These laws regulate compensation, such as how much an employer must pay their employee and when overtime is required. Labor laws also provide rules surrounding hiring and firing. and determine whether a working environment is considered safe for its employees. This is to ensure that no employees, no matter their industry or job, are exposed to unsafe working conditions or are put at risk for serious health problems.

Why are Labor Laws Important?

Labor laws are very important because they provide a set of protections for employees and employers.

  1. Labor laws protect employees from being overworked by setting up a series of rules for how many hours a person can work, what compensation they’re entitled to if they work overtime, and how many breaks they are entitled to throughout a workday.
  2. Labor laws determine what type of environment is considered safe depending on the industry. A safe workplace for a mining company or a chemical manufacturing plant is going to require different levels of personal protective equipment compared to a typical administrative office, but every employee, no matter where they work, is entitled to a safe workplace.
  3. Similarly, labor laws determine compensation not just for regular work but for situations where an employer failed to keep their workplace safe and as a result caused an injury to occur. Workers’ compensation laws determine when and where someone is afforded compensation for something that happened in the workplace.
  4. There are also laws that prohibit discrimination when it comes to hiring or firing, as well as discriminatory treatment within the workplace for existing employees. At a federal and state level, this includes discrimination based on sexual orientation, religion, race, and more. People who are subjected to any type of unwanted sexual advances or discrimination based on religion in the workplace have legal recourse to punish the offender and seek compensation.

What is the Purpose of the Labor Law?

The purpose of the labor law is to govern all aspects of employment including:

  • Hiring and firing regulations
  • Minimage wage
  • Overtime pay
  • Workplace safety
  • Meals and breaks
  • Social security and retirement benefits
  • Workers; compensation

These laws not only protect employees, but employers as well. Employees are required to follow rules, show up on time, adhere to company policy, and provide steady output.

Tennessee labor laws and federal law

There are many federal labor laws that dictate how employers must run a company. Federal laws typically refer to things like health and safety requirements, as well as maximum hours a person can work in a day or a week, and what the minimum wage is. 

That said, most states have similar labor and employment laws, which may or may not trump federal laws in some scenarios. For example, if the federal law requires a 30-minute meal break but does not require compensation, but state law mandates a paid 30-minute meal break,then the break must happen in accordance with both federal and state laws, and the compensation must be paid because of state law. 

What are Rights of Employees in Tennessee ?

Employees have many rights, such asthe right to a fair hiring process, which means not being subject to discrimination when applying for a job. Employees also have the right to file workers’ compensation grievances or reports about an unsafe work environment without being retaliated against. 

In some states, employees can be mandated to work overtime, but compensation is also required from the employer. If your business offers benefits at the time of hiring or at any point during your contract, they are required to honor those benefits.s. Benefits might include healthcare, dental care, vacation days, sick days, retirement benefits, and more.

Some companies offer retirement programs as part of the benefits package, which means they must follow through with the terms of the compensation features, such as matching deposits into your retirement account. All companies are also required to pay into Social Security and are usually required to withhold taxes from your paycheck. Employees have the right to see a breakdown of their compensation, not just for a given work week, but for any extra benefits like health insurance or retirement. 

What is an Example of a Labor Law in Tennessee ?

There are many examples of a labor law, such as those that mandate equal pay, or requirements an employer must provide within the workplace so that employees are safe throughout their work day.

Tennessee employment law for overtime pay

Labor laws determine how much an employer has to pay an employee when they work overtime. Overtime pay refers specifically to any hours worked above and beyond a given amount. 

For example: Marco is a full-time employee. Marco works 40 hours per week. Any hours he works above that 40 hour mark qualifies for overtime pay, which is typically time and a half. Mark makes $10 per hour, so any hours over his 40 hour work week are compensated at $15 per hour. If Mark is a salaried employee, his salary gets divided by the average 40 hours per week, and that amount gets converted to an hourly rate to determine time and a half.

Employment laws regarding overtime pay also refer to compensation given for anything beyond a certain number of hours that are worked in one day. Using the example above, if Marco typically works eight hours per day, but 2 days per week he works 12 hours, he is entitled to overtime compensation for any hours worked beyond eight hours in one day. In this case, he would be entitled to four hours of compensation.

Employment law in Tennessee for minimum wage

As mentioned, there are situations where laws or rules provide legal requirements for a job at a federal level and at a state level. 

Minimum wage is a great example of when a federal law comes first followed by a state law. All states must provide compensation that meets the minimum wage requirement put forth by the federal government. However, states can decide to raise the state-level minimum wage, and all applicable employers must abide by state minimum wage laws rather than the federal law.

For example: Federal minimum wage is $7.25 per hour which means that all companies who are required to abide by that law cannot provide compensation less than $7.25 per hour. In California, the minimum wage is $14 per hour, which means all employers operating in the state of California who must abide by this law cannot provide compensation lower than $14 per hour.

Frequently Asked Questions

1. Does my employer have to tell me why they fired me?

In Tennessee, employers are legally allowed to terminate employees at any time, for any reason, or for no reason at all. The only exceptions to this policy is that an employer is prohibited from firing an employee for a discriminatory purpose, such as on the basis of a disability, religion, race, age, sex, national origin, or color.

2. When can I receive unemployment?

Unemployment benefits in Tennessee are typically approved within 21 days of submitting a claim. After that, you get compensation for all of the weeks you were eligible for unemployment, even if it took more than 21 days to process your claim. For example, if it takes  six weeks to process your claim, you will be compensated for all six weeks during which you were eligible for unemployment. 

3. Can I sue for wrongful termination?

If your employer fires you and you were employed at-will, you can’t sue for wrongful termination. However, if you were fired for discriminatory reasons, in retaliation for exercising your rights such as demanding a clean workplace or demanding equal pay, or they fired you in violation of your employment contract,  then you can file a lawsuit for wrongful termination. 

4. What is a workweek in Tennessee?

A workweek in Tennessee refers to 7 continuous days of work. It does not have to run from a Saturday to a Sunday. It can apply to any day you start working. So if you begin work on a Wednesday, your work week might be Wednesday through the following Tuesday.

5. What are overtime requirements in Tennessee?

There are no state requirements or laws pertaining to overtime if you choose to work more than 8 hours in a day,on holidays, or on weekends. This means employers must refer to federal law regarding compensation for any such work. 

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