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Discrimination: Tennessee

Discrimination requirements for other states

Federal law and guidance on this subject should be reviewed together with this section.

Author: James L. Holt, Jr., Jackson, Shields, Yeiser & Holt


  • The Tennessee Human Rights Act prohibits employment discrimination because of race, creed, color, religion, sex, age, or national origin (including ancestry), and retaliation. The Tennessee Disability Act prohibits discrimination because of mental, physical or visual disability. See Discrimination Under Tennessee Law.
  • The bona fide occupational qualification defense is recognized under Tennessee law. See Liability.
  • The Tennessee Commission on Human Rights receives, investigates and handles claims of harassment. See Administrative Process and Judicial Proceedings.
  • Available remedies under the THRA include reinstatement, back pay, actual damages, injunctive relief, costs and reasonable attorney fees. See Remedies.
  • Tennessee law also prohibits discrimination against employees engaged in the off-duty use of tobacco. See Discrimination Based on Off-Duty Activities.
  • Employers in Tennessee are prohibited from discriminating against employees based on union membership or lack thereof. See Free Association Protection.
  • Employers in Tennessee are prohibited from terminating or refusing to hire an individual because of membership in the state National Guard. See Military Protection.
  • Tennessee allows employers to grant a preference in hiring and promotion to veterans, disabled veterans' spouses, and unmarried surviving spouses of deceased veterans. See Veterans' Preference.
  • Tennessee's equal pay laws prohibit wage discrimination by sex, race, creed, color, religion, age, or national origin. See Equal Pay.
  • Employers in Tennessee are required to provide reasonable break time to employees who need to express breast milk. See Lactation/Breastfeeding Protections and Accommodations.
  • The Tennessee Pregnant Workers' Fairness Act requires employers with 15 or more employees to provide reasonable accommodations for conditions arising from pregnancy, childbirth or related medical conditions. See Pregnancy Accommodations.
  • Localities including Knoxville, Nashville and Davidson County, and Shelby County have requirements pertaining to discrimination. See Local Requirements.