Employment Discrimination in Tennessee

Employment discrimination against protected classes in Tennessee is illegal.

April 18, 2018
Federal and state law prohibit Tennessee employers from discriminating against employees based on certain characteristics, such as race or religion. (To learn more, see our page on employment discrimination and harassment.)

What Are the Protected Classes in Tennessee?

In all 50 states, federal law makes it illegal to discriminate based on:

  • race
  • color
  • national origin
  • religion
  • sex (including pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions)
  • disability
  • age (40 and older)
  • citizenship status, and
  • genetic information.

In addition, Tennessee state law prohibits discrimination based on:

  • race
  • color
  • national origin
  • religion
  • sex (including pregnancy, childbirth, and related medical conditions)
  • disability: physical, mental, or visual
  • age (40 and older)
  • use of guide dog, and
  • response to emergency as a volunteer rescue squad worker.
Several cities in the U.S. have their own laws protecting additional characteristics or extending protection to more employees. Contact your local government to learn more.

Which Employers Are Subject to the Antidiscrimination Laws?

Federal antidiscrimination laws apply to Pennsylvania employers with 15 or more employees, with the following exceptions:

  • age discrimination (employers with 20 or more employees)
  • citizenship status discrimination (employers with four or more employees), and
  • equal pay for men and women (all employers).

Tennessee's antidiscrimination law applies to employers with eight or more employees, or in the case of gender-based wage discrimination only, employers with one or more employees.

What Government Agency Regulates Workplace Discrimination in Tennessee?

The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) is the federal agency that regulates workplace discrimination. You can contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission by calling 800-669-4000 or check out its website at www.eeoc.gov. The website will help you locate an EEOC field office in Tennessee. (See our article on filing a discrimination claim with the EEOC.)

The Human Rights Commission enforces state antidiscrimination law in Tennessee. You can contact the Human Rights Commission at 965-594-6500 or 800-251-3589 or go to its website.

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