Tennessee Labor Law Board

For those living and working in our state, the Tennessee Labor Law Board is a key figure in our everyday lives even if we do not realize it. This board is comprised of key figures that will help us to insure that our businesses are run successfully with employee needs being met. In addition, the individual employee can come to this board to gain information and even skill training to better provide for the necessary services. There are plenty of opportunities to be had from tapping into the Tennessee Labor Law Board.

One key aspect that many do not realize that the Tennessee Labor Law Board provides for is extensive help to those that fall unemployed. The state is committed to provide a good amount of information and tools to aid those that need it to get back on track and get back into the workforce. With that being said, there are several things to know about. The most common need that those that are unemployed need is financial assistance of unemployment coverage. In addition to this, insurance needs will need to be met. These are factors that the board helps to provide for.

Yet, it does not stop there. The Tennessee Labor Law Board also provides for help in training and educating those that are unemployed to get them back into the workforce. There are several programs in place that can be useful in this manner. This also includes a wide range of apprenticeship programs. This is also an important aspect in just maintaining a quality workforce that can find employment of the right caliber.

In addition to these features, the Tennessee Labor Law Board provides the necessary help to employers to get them the quality of an employee that they need. Of course, they also provide for the laws governing the state’s employment field as well both from the end of the employer and the employee.

88 thoughts on “Tennessee Labor Law Board

  1. Can an employer change how they pay you without written notice? For example, I was on salary during probation period, then go switched to “pay per visit” (I’m in healthcare) without notifying me. I was told that corporate could do it “any day,” but was never notified…and due to the slow time, I will be making less money. Is there a law that forces employers to notify you in writing that how you get paid will be changed?

  2. Hi Patricia! The Tennessee Wage Regulation Act allows an employer to cut an employee’s wages, but only if the employee is informed in advance. So the employer could tell you today that beginning tomorrow, you will be paid on a “pay per visit” basis — but they cannot tell you today that you will be paid on a “pay per visit” basis for the past 2 weeks. You must be informed of your wages prior to working. It is actually a misdemeanor for a Tennessee employer to permit an employee to work, unless the employee knows how much he or she will earn. You should file a wage complaint with the Tennessee Labor Standards Division ASAP. (You may have to take the employer to small claims court to collect your salary — no attorney is necessary in small claims court. ) HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~ Amelia

    Read more about this at: http://www.tn.gov/labor-wfd/Title50-2-101.htm

  3. I was recently employed by a hotel as a front desk clerk. After a week of training and one night by myself, I was no longer on the schedule. It took me a week and a half to get in touch with the manager and he said “we decided not to hire you.” His reasoning was that I did not take responsibility for a mistake I had made as he was told by another employee. He made no effort to contact me or even notify me that I was no longer employeed. I was never asked what happened; just fired. Is that illegal or just bad business practices?

  4. Hi Beth! That is extremely poor management, but it is legal.
    We are not even sure we believe the manager’s story. It would be very, very unusual to terminate a front desk clerk after just one night alone, for making one mistake. We think it is more likely that he suddenly realized he needed to save money on payroll.
    Either way, you are better off not working for such an unprofessional organization. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~ Amelia

  5. I’m currently an hourly employee, I have asked to be changed to salary. My boss told me that under the Tennessee labor laws, she does not decide who is paid salary or hourly. Is this a true statement??

  6. Hi Sam! Well, your boss might believe that statement, but if so she is misinformed.
    First of all, there are practically no Tennessee labor laws to speak of. For example, there is no minimum wage or overtime law in Tennessee. Exempt and non-exempt status are determined under federal law, the FLSA or Fair Labor Standards Act.

    However, even under the FLSA, any employee can be paid hourly if the employer chooses. Even the CEO of a company could legally be an hourly employee. The FLSA does not state that any employee MUST be exempt, only that an employer CAN treat certain employees as exempt if the employer chooses.

    So it seems that your boss mis-spoke. However, we would not advise that you correct her. In reality, the employer can change an employee’s status to exempt (provided the employee meets the requirements) at any time. Any employee who refuses this change can be disciplined or terminated. In this economy, if you refuse to accept the switch to exempt, the employer will easily be able to find another employee to fill your job. So assuming that your job duties meet the standard for an exempt employee, you are wise to accept the change. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~ Amelia

  7. Greetings,

    My employer has recently asked it’s employees to do two things that I feel may infringe on fair labor rules.

    The first request made was that we have to turn in printed proof of all medications we have been prescribed by a doctor. This information is to be placed in our individual files. Does this not force an employee to choose between their job or surrendering their right to patient/doctor confidentiality?

    The second action by my company was to schedule “mandatory” meetings, to discuss insurance changes, to be held on our days off and we are to be unpaid for the time spent during the meetings. Can a company make a meeting mandatory and then not pay it’s employees for the time they attend?

  8. Hi Lee! Both of these are probably illegal. In some cases, the employer may have the right to a doctor’s release stating that none of the medications you are taking would interfere with your work duties, especially if it is a safety hazard — if you operate machinery or drive at work, for example. Otherwise, the employer is in violation of federal law by requiring this information. You should a) refuse to supply it, b) contact the federal department of labor at http://www.dol.gov and c) hire a lawyer if you are terminated.

    Anytime an employer has a mandatory meeting, employees must be paid for it under federal law. File a wage complaint with the U.S. department of labor at http://www.dol.gov. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~ Amelia

  9. I work in long term care and my Director of Nursing called for a mandatory meeting with the times of 7am 2pm and 330 pm. I live 80 miles away and had no one to pick my child up from school. I called and ask if we could do a phone conference doing the meeting. The HR personnel said no we would have to do it for everyone else. i am trying not to b writing up but i also have the responsiblity of my child. i have to take her to school and pick her up . i found a solution to the problem but was rejected. should i still b written up for having to choose between my child and a mandatory meeting? which could had been held by phone conference?

  10. Hi tb! Sorry, but there is no legal requirement that an employer has to make accommodations for an employee with childcare responsiblities. From the employer’s point of view, you were scheduled for a shift (the meeting) and you did not show up. It does not matter that you are not normally scheduled at that time. Nor is it the employer’s fault that you live 80 miles away. So yes, it is appropriate that you be written up for not attending this meeting.
    In the future, our recommendation would be that you get a babysitter for that one day, if necessary, to keep your job. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~ Amelia

  11. Message Hello, my husband has worked for the same company for 10yrs. He recently terminated his employment with a 4 weeks notice. He had 178 hrs of earned PTO time. His employee hand book that he signed upon being hired states he would be paid upon termination all PTO time. Now his company states effective 01/01/2010 that the policy changed. We have not seen or signed any new hand book. We did receive a fax stating that my husbands 178 hrs would be gifted to him. My husband rarely ever used any of his PTO time in the 10 yrs working for this company. He was not even allowed to accrue anymore once he reached the cap. We did receive a phone call from the company stating that his PTO would be paid in 40 hours instatllments until paid in full. Then when we did not receive it, my husband called and they said now they were not going to pay. What can we do? Do we have any legal rights? Thank you

  12. Hi Teresa! You could consult an attorney to try to get the employer to pay for the PTO, because of the verbal promises made by the employer to pay the PTO at termination. Just so you know, the employer can change the PTO payment policy at any point. Many employees think of PTO as money in the bank but in fact it is a promise of time off with pay that can be changed at the employer’s whim. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~ Amelia

  13. I have a question regarding getting papers from my company that I’ve already signed. I work in Tennessee and on orientation day I signed my life away like many people do in a new job. That day they gave me copies of everything I signed. Later, I spilled coffee on most of the paperwork and threw it out. Now, human resources said I cannot have copies of any of the stuff that I previously signed from my file. Now, I thought that an employee has the right to obtain any and ALL documents that they signed during their employment with a company…by law. Is this not true? Is that legal for them to do? Thank you. T.Byrd

  14. Hi Thomas! No, there is no federal or Tennessee law that the employer must furnish you with copies of every paper you signed when you were hired. Most employees do not “sign their life away.” They sign federal and state W-4s, an I-9, possibly a name and address form and usually one page of the employee handbook.

    It would be reasonable for you to request a current employee handbook if you do not have one.

    If you signed a contract or agreement in addition to that, such as a non-compete agreement, it would be your job to keep up with that information. The employer gave you a copy at the time, which means they followed the best practices in HR.

    If at some point in the future you file a lawsuit against the company, your attorney can serve them with a subpoena. In that case, they would have to turn over the requested documents.

    A few states such as Missouri give the employee the rights to a copy of the personnel file, but most states including Tennessee do not. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~ Amelia

  15. Thank you for replying, Amelia. It’s unfortunate that Tennessee is one of the states that don’t seem to care about the employee like many others. I’ve lived in several states & requested papers from other employers and found that (previously) without even a why, HR will copy any documents that an employee requests, but here it’s like they don’t want you reading what they already gave me. It’s also a shame that I must now hire a lawyer to subpoena them for my signed documents. Sorry, just wanted to vent. Thanks again, Amelia. You’ve been helpful.

  16. Hi Thomas! You bring up a good point. While there is no legal requirement that the employer provide you with certain documents from your personnel file, most employers would comply. This is especially true if you requested a specific document, like a wage agreement or a non-compete agreement. This employer is being extremely uncooperative, even though they are acting within the law.

    We will say that there are only 5 U.S. states that have no minimum wage at the state level: Mississippi, Alabama, Louisiana, Tennessee and South Carolina. When you are looking for a state that offers protections for employees, you would probably do better to avoid those states. By comparison even West Virginia and Kentucky are almost progressive. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~ Amelia

  17. I was working for a docters office & got laid off. During my time working there, I didnt recieve some of my overtime pay. When it was mentioned I was given an apology & 100 dollars and was by the owner when they were financially able I would get backpay for my overtime. I went for surgery and during my recovery time off work I got a letter in the mail saying I was laid off due to lack of sales of certain equipment for teen care patients. I still have proof of everything. Is there anything I can do to get what I am due.

  18. Hi Melissa! Yes, if this happened within the past 2 to 3 years, you can get back wages. Contact the U.S. Department of Labor at http://www.dol.gov and file a wage complaint for unpaid overtime. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~ Amelia

  19. Hi,
    I work 2nd shift (hours paid are 3-11) They want us out on the floor at 5 min till 3 . (They want us to clock in at 2:45) And we can’t leave our machine till 3rd shift comes in and takes it over. there are times when I don’t clock out till 12 – 13 min after 11. I was told by another worker that they don’t pay overtime till 11:15. If I worked 12 min over each day…that is an hour for a week. (not counting the 5 min early each day) Should we be paid that hour at time and a half? Do work places get by with this?

  20. Hi Randy! If the company is covered by the federal minimum wage and overtime law, the FLSA, then employees must be paid for all the time they work. If the employee must clock in at 2:45 pm and remain on the premises waiting for work, he or she must be paid starting at 2:45. If the employee must work until 11:12 pm, then the employee is entitled to payment for that time. When an employee works more than 40 hours in the payroll week, he or she is entitled to overtime. Employees must be paid even for the time they spend walking to and from the timeclock.

    A company might get away with this because nobody has ever filed a wage complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor at http://www.dol.gov. (It is illegal for an employer to retaliate against an employee who files a wage complaint in good faith.) If the company is small and all the products are sold within the same state, they may not be covered under the federal minimum wage and overtime law — and Tennessee has no state minimum wage. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~ Amelia

  21. I work for a body shop and only earn commission (not a 1099) The company now says that I have to take a 30 min break they also have all these meetings that I have to go (without pay), They will also make us stop working and clean the whole building (without pay) Let me say I do clean my area before I leave. There are workers that are hourly with the company too but they get paid. To be able to make my money I have to keep working. They also just lately started to take money from the commission workers to pay the hourly workers so we have to pay half of their wages, I am a widower and have two boys to take care of so I can not be out of a job. By taking the money out of our checks it is very hard to make a living.
    Also they are to have the cars in my area by the next morning for me to work on it is not like that now there are many of times that I have to wait 1 or 2 hours before I get to start working. I have to be there a 8 am then I get no pay while I am waiting for them to get the paper work ready.

    Just wanted to know it they can do that in Tennessee.

    Thank You

  22. Hi kevin! No, they probably cannot get away with this. Tennessee has no minimum wage law and very few labor laws. However, the federal FLSA or Fair Labor Standards Act covers employees who are engaged in interstate commerce, as well as all employees when the company has annual revenue of $500,000 or more. Since you are probably using paint, parts and materials that were made outside Tennessee, you are probably covered by that law, and entitled to an hourly wage plus overtime, and payment for every hour you work.

    We recommend that you contact the U.S. Department of Labor at http://www.dol.gov to get their reading on whether this is legal or not. If not, you should file a wage complaint with the U.S. DOL. It is illegal for an employer to retaliate against an employee who files a wage complaint in good faith. Even if the company ends up not owing you any money, they cannot retaliate against you. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~ Amelia

  23. my question is if a person works in a convenience store and works on the hoildays.do they get pay time …. other question if the owners call a employee meeting and it last for 2 hrs do they have to pay the workers for the meeting..

  24. i work in a conevenice store and i work hoildays,should i get pay time and a half for the hoildays… if so can i make the store owner back up and pay me for every hoilday i work.

  25. Hi lisa! If an employee in Tennessee works on a holiday, the employee is entitled to payment for the time worked, at his or her regular rate of pay. There is no law that requires a Tennessee employer to give paid holidays, to give the employee another day off with pay, or to pay a higher hourly rate to employees who work on holidays.

    When an employer requires workers to attend a meeting, they must be paid for that meeting. This is true whether the meeting is 10 minutes long or 5 hours long. Time spent in a meeting is time spent working. If this puts the employee over 40 hours in the payroll week, the employee must be paid overtime. Because Tennessee has no minimum wage law, you should file a wage complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor at http://www.dol.gov. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~ Amelia

  26. Hi mary! There is no law in Tennessee (or in most states) that employees must be paid time-and-one-half for working on holidays. Some employers offer this benefit, but there is no law that they must.

    Tennesee has no state minimum wage law, but virtually all convenience store employees are covered by the federal FLSA because they engage in interstate commerce when they accept credit cards for payment. Under that law, an employee must be paid his or her usual rate for working on the holiday. If the employee works more than 40 hours in the payroll week, the employee must be paid overtime. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~ Amelia

  27. Should the employee be paid if you are required to attend a meeting during
    your lunch period (employer provides meal)? The meeting takes place
    while the meal is served.

  28. Hi sue! Yes, the employee is entitled to payment for all hours worked under the federal FLSA, or Fair Labor Standards Act. Attending a mandatory meeting counts as work time, even if the employee is eating while working. A meal break can be unpaid, but only if the employee is relieved of all duties. In this case, the employee is not relieved of all duties, so the meal break must be paid. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~ Amelia

  29. Could you tell me if there is a law in Gatlinburg, Tennessee about how long an hourly worker is allowed to work? I have been told that if I work more than 8 hours a day the company I work for can get in trouble with the labor board. How can that be if I am the one who suggests that I work longer in order to get the job done? I do clock in and out on a time card when starting and finishing work. However I do not clock in and out for lunch break although I know it is being docked. Which I think is legal and fair just wondering about the other 4 hours I sometimes put in voluntarily although still on the clock. And I get straigt pay not overtime since I do not put in 40 hours a week. Average about 32 to 33 hours per week.

  30. Hi Debbie! There is a federal law that limits workers to 8 hours per day, but it applies only to employees who are 14 or 15 years old. If you are 16 or older, there is no federal or Tennessee law that would prevent you from working 12 hours per day or even 24 hours per day, in most occupations.

    Various federal and state laws set limits on work hours in certain occupations. For example, interstate truckers and airline pilots can only work limited hours per day. However, there is no limit for employees in most industries. Some cities do pass employment laws at the local level, but we were unable to locate any for Gatlinburg.

    On the other hand, there is no law that would require the employer to allow you to work more than 8 hours per day, even if you wanted to. The employer can set any restrictions they like upon the number of hours worked by an employee. Some employers would have a concern about the quality of performance, when an employee works 12 hours instead of 8 — but there is no federal or Tennessee law that would prevent it. We assume that you are being paid for all the hours you work. Feel free to post any additional questions you might have. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~ Amelia

  31. Message Hello! I am currently employed as a nurse at a small hospital. Our supervisor requires us to get someone to cover our shift if we call in sick. She states that we are responsible for our shift, no matter if ill. I can understand if it is a child or spouse illness. I am in agreement that if we need to be off for other reasons we are responsible for getting coverage, however I and several of my co-workers do not feel we should be responsible for covering our shift for the day/night- which ever- in the case of employee illness or serious illness of child or spouse. There is no clause in our policy stating this that I am aware of. Illness cannot be helped. I feel this is extreme and is threatening to all staff. Some even feel their jobs are threatened if they call in and do not or are not able to obtain coverage and come to work sick, which opens up another can of worms. All our staff are very responsible and we have a low occurance of employee illness. Sick time is not abused as far as I know, I have been employeed with this particular hospital for over 10 years. We are a small facillity, so I usually know if staff members are ill and have been absent. Is this against any labor laws and if so what course /actions can we take? This has been required of us for about 3-4 years now.

  32. Hi Yvonne! This is not good HR practice, but it is legal. There is no Tennessee or federal law that specifically forbids an employer from implementing this policy. We agree with you that illness is unpredictable, and that the employee may not be able to find coverage.

    An employer can fire employees, or threaten to fire employees, for missing too much time from work. If an employee has a serious health condition, she may be entitled to unpaid leave under FMLA, the federal Family and Medical Leave Act. That law prevents an employer from taking action against an employee who misses work, even if the employee has not arranged for a replacement to cover her shifts. Otherwise, what this employer is doing is not right, but it is legal. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~ Amelia

  33. i was employed and my employer terminated me after six months of employment due to my record that he new about it when he hired me wat can i do about this.

  34. Hi chuck! This is not fair, but it is legal. Like most states, Tennessee operates under the “employment at will” doctrine. That policy simply states that an employee can be fired at any time, for any reason or without a reason. (It also states that an employee can quit at any time, for any reason or without any reason.) Apparently the owner has decided to use this policy to fire you. A few states such as Wisconsin prohibit discrimination based upon a criminal conviction. Tennessee does not. About the only thing you can do is look for another job. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~ Amelia

  35. i was wonder is there any law in tennessee that states a temp employe must be hired in after a certain number of days and or hours. Any info would be great on this

  36. Hi Robert! No, there is no law that a temporary employee must ever be given a permanent job. An employer could hire a “temp” every summer for 67 years, without giving the employee a permanent job. Or, a temporary employee could work 120 hours per week for 35 weeks or more, and not be entitled to a permanent job. This is true, even if the company has a permanent job the employee is qualified to fill.

    Some companies have policies that after an employee has been a “temp” for 6 months or a year, they have to be hired or let go. But there is no state or federal law that requires this.

    However, an employer cannot classify a permanent employee as “temporary” just to avoid paying unemployment benefits. If an employee worked for the company for 20 years and then was laid off, the state unemployment agency would quickly realize that the employee was not temporary. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~ Amelia

  37. The [employer name deleted] at Hohenwald is not giving proper breaks and is having employees to clock out to clean restrooms. Please address this as soon as possible, thank you.

  38. Hi Robert! You need to officially file complaints before anything can be done. To file a complaint about meal breaks, contact the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development at http://www.state.tn.us/labor-wfd/. To file a complaint about being required to work (clean restrooms) off the clock, you will have to file a wage complaint with the U.S. Department of Labor at http://www.dol.gov. That’s because Tennessee has no minimum wage law. HTH, and thanks for reading the blogs!~Amelia

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