Tennessee Civil Rights Laws

The collective rights of individuals in the United States to receive fair and equal treatment under the law is referred to as civil rights. In an employment context civil rights mostly refer to the rights of minorities, the disabled, and other marginalized classifications of people to have an equal opportunity. Civil rights are not set in stone, but reflect the political and social landscape of the times. Most civil rights laws are enforced at the federal level, but states also address the issue to varying degrees.

For the most part, Tennessee's employment discrimination laws offer the same protections as federal laws. Employers may not discriminate against employees or prospective employees on the basis of race, sex, age, religion, color, national origin, or disability. The state also has a separate statute prohibiting pregnancy discrimination.

Below you will find a link to the statute addressing Tennessee civil rights laws and basic information about civil actions. See FindLaw's Employment Discrimination section to learn more.

Code Section 4-21-101, et seq.
Agency Human Rights Commission
Administrative Preemption No
Private Action Permitted? Yes
Attorney Fees Recoverable by Plaintiff? Yes
Statute of Limitations 180 days/agency; 1 yr./private action

Note: State laws are constantly changing. We make every effort to keep our state laws pages up to date, but you may want to contact a Tennessee employment law attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

How to File a Claim for a Civil Rights Violation

Before filing a complaint, you may want to simply make your employer aware of the situation. Quite a few discriminatory acts go unrecognized or unnoticed because the employee doesn't speak up. If your direct supervisor is the one you feel is being discriminatory, go to his or her superior.

If you would like to file a formal complaint for discrimination or some other civil rights violation in Tennessee, you should fill out a discrimination complaint form (PDF) and send it to the Tennessee Human Rights Commission (THRC). The form has a special section for employment-related matters. Employees also may file a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), which will investigate your complaint and send you a "Notice of Right to Sue" if it believes your case has merit.

Research the Law

Tennessee Civil Rights Laws: Related Resources