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What are the requirements relating to advertising open positions?

None—other than to ensure equal opportunity employer designation.

Background checks

What can employers do with regard to background checks and inquiries?

(a) Criminal records and arrests

Tennessee has not passed any legislation regulating background checks and inquiries but does require that some employers check criminal conviction records (though not arrest records). Employers should be mindful of federal laws limiting the use of criminal and arrest records in employment decisions, however.

(b) Medical history

Although no specific prohibition exists in the Tennessee Disability Act, employers are likely prohibited from checking medical history before employment, as with the Americans with Disabilities Act.

(c) Drug screening

Employers that comply with the Tennessee Drug-Free Workplace Program are eligible for several workers’ compensation-related benefits. Private employers that wish to participate in the program must conduct:

  • job applicant testing for drugs following a conditional offer of employment;
  • reasonable suspicion testing of employees whose behavior indicates that they are using or have used drugs or alcohol in violation of the employer's policy;
  • post-accident testing;
  • follow-up drug testing after treatment for drug or alcohol-related problems; and
  • routine fitness for duty testing of employees, if such testing is required by the employer’s written policy.

Testing of public employees is subject to state and federal constitutional limitations. Positive tests must be verified by a confirmation test and by a medical review officer before an employer may discharge, discipline, refuse to hire, discriminate against, or request or require rehabilitation of an applicant or employee (T.C.A. § 50-9-101, et seq.).

(d) Credit checks

Tennessee follows the legal rules set out in the Fair Credit Reporting Act and has not passed legislation prohibiting employers from pulling credit reports or from using such reports when making a hiring decision.

(e) Immigration status

Under the Tennessee Lawful Employment Act, effective January 1 2012, all employers in Tennessee are required to demonstrate that they are hiring and maintaining a legal workforce (T.C.A. §50-1-103(c) and § 50-1-701, et seq.).

(f) Social media

Tennessee’s Employee Online Privacy Act of 2014 prohibits employers from:

  • requiring or requesting that employees or applicants disclose passwords to personal online accounts;
  • compelling employees or applicants to add them to their personal online account contact lists;
  • compelling employees or applicants to access personal online accounts in their presence so that the employer can view the contents; and
  • taking adverse action, failing to hire, or otherwise penalizing employees or applicants because of a failure to disclose such information or to take such actions (Tenn. Code Ann. § 50-1-1001, et seq).

(g) Other

Eligibility to work verification requirements. 

Wage and hour


What are the main sources of wage and hour laws in your state?

Federal law with some additional Tennessee requirements.

What is the minimum hourly wage?

Same as federal law. No separate state law exists.

What are the rules applicable to final pay and deductions from wages?

Final paycheck must be paid within 21 days after termination or by the next payroll date after termination, whichever is later (Tenn. Code Ann. § 50-2-103(g)).

Deductions from wages 

Employers may offset an employee's wages for an amount owed by the employee if: the employer enters into an agreement with the employee to advance his or her wages before the wages are due, agrees to otherwise lend him or her money, or permits him or her to charge personal items on a business or corporate credit card; the employee signs a written agreement before the employer offsets his or her wages for any amount owed to it.

The employer must:

  • have a copy of the signed agreement in its possession before any wages are offset; and
  • notify the employee of the following in writing 14 days before the payment of wages is due:
    • the amount that the employee owes the employer;
    • that the employee's wages may be offset if the amount owed is not paid before the payment of wages is due;
    • that the employee may submit an affidavit as described below; and
    • the employee has not paid the amount described in the notice sent by the employer.

Employers cannot offset wages that are due to an employee if he or she sends a sworn affidavit to the employer, and a copy of the affidavit to the Department of Labor and Workforce Development, no later than seven days after receiving notification from the employer, contesting the amount owed. If an employee contests an amount owed, the employer may commence an appropriate civil action to recover the amount it alleges that the employee owes (Tenn. Code Ann. § 50-2-110).

Hours and overtime

What are the requirements for meal and rest breaks?

A mandatory unpaid break of at least 30 minutes is required if the employee is scheduled for six consecutive hours, but only if the job does not allow the employee to take an appropriate meal break on his or her own. Tipped employees who are principally engaged in serving food or beverages to customers may waive their right to a 30-minute, unpaid meal break by providing to their employers a waiver request that complies with statutory requirements (T.C.A. § 50-2-103 (h)). Breaks are required for females to express breast milk.

What are the maximum hour rules?

None, other than federal.

How should overtime be calculated?

Same as federal.

What exemptions are there from overtime?

Same as federal.

Record keeping

What payroll and payment records must be maintained?

Same as federal.

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