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Employee Discipline: Tennessee

Employee Discipline 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


  • Tennessee law prohibits employers from discriminating against employees in regard to discipline on the basis of race, creed, color, religion, sex, age, national origin, disability or in retaliation for making a claim of unlawful discrimination. See Discrimination Prohibited.
  • Tennessee law contains whisteblowing and retaliation protections. See Whistleblowing and Anti-Retaliation Provisions.
  • The Supreme Court of Tennessee has recognized a civil claim if an employee is discharged in contravention of a well defined and established public policy. See Retaliatory Discharge.
  • Tennessee has enacted significant employment litigation reform legislation. See Employment Litigation Reform.
  • Tennessee law restricts employers from disciplining an employee or requiring them to provide proof of vaccination if the person objects to receiving a COVID-19 vaccine for any reason. See COVID-19 Vaccine Mandates.
  • Tennessee law protects certain off duty employee activities, such as smoking and voting. See Off Duty Activities.
  • Tennessee employers should exercise caution when disciplining employees for attendance issues related to protected leaves. See Attendance.
  • Tennessee is a one party consent state. See Recording Meetings.
  • Disciplinary policies in handbooks may result in an implied employment contract. See Employee Handbooks.
  • Tennessee employers may not discipline an employee based solely on a polygraph or lie detector test. See Polygraph Testing.
  • Tennessee has enacted a Drug-Free Workplace Act. However, employers should use caution when disciplining employees with drug and alcohol dependencies. See Drug and Alcohol Testing and Discipline.
  • Tennessee employers may prohibit employees and other persons in the workplace form possessing weapons on employer property. However, employers are not required to do so under Tennessee law. See Firearms.