Tennessee Extends Anti-Bullying Policy Protection to Private Employers

Author: Robert S. Teachout, XpertHR Legal Editor

May 1, 2019

A new Tennessee law extends liability protections to private employers that adopt the state's model policy against bullying. Gov. Bill Lee signed the bill, amending the Healthy Workplace Act, on April 23 and it became effective immediately.

Under the Healthy Workplace Act, the Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations was tasked to create a model policy to prevent abusive conduct in the workplace. An employer that adopts the model policy or a policy that conforms to the requirements of the model policy is immune from liability in a lawsuit for any employee's abusive conduct that results in negligent or intentional infliction of mental anguish.

As originally passed, the Tennessee law defined "employer" to mean "any agency, county, metropolitan government, municipality, or other political subdivision of this state" - that is, only public employers. The new amendment redefines "employer" to also include private employers.

However, the law does not limit an employee's personal liability for his or her abusive conduct in the workplace.