Workplace Rights Attorney Advocating for Tennessee Employees
As an employee, you have a right to be free from employment discrimination on the basis of your membership in certain protected groups or engaging or refusing to engage in certain activities. Both federal and state anti-discrimination laws outline these specific legally protected rights and provide for an ability to sue to enforce your rights if they are violated. At The Salonus Firm, Tennessee employment lawyer Jessica Salonus can handle employment matters arising out of all forms of discrimination, sexual harassment, hostile work environment, retaliation, whistleblower actions, ERISA disputes over benefits, FMLA claims, severance negotiations, and non-competition clauses. The Salonus Firm provides strength and compassion during difficult times to workers in Jackson, Memphis, and Nashville, among other cities in Tennessee.
Bringing an Employment Claim Under Federal or State Law
Discrimination occurs when any adverse employment action is taken against a job applicant or employee on the basis of their membership in a protected category. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is one of the federal laws that is most commonly invoked in an anti-discrimination lawsuit. It prohibits discrimination on the basis of the protected categories of race, religion, sex, national origin, and color. Discrimination can take place in various forms, including, but not limited to, failure to hire, failure to promote, termination, or harassment.
Sexual harassment, for example, is a violation under Title VII, whether it is quid pro quo harassment or hostile work environment harassment. The former exists if your employer tries to obtain a sexual favor through direct promises or threats to the terms of your employment. The latter exists if the harassment is so severe or pervasive that a reasonable worker would believe that a hostile work environment was created.
Title VII is a federal anti-discrimination law and is enforced first by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). If you want to file a lawsuit based on Title VII, you must first file a charge with the EEOC within a narrow window of time from the date of the discriminatory, harassing, or retaliatory conduct at issue (generally 300 days from the date of the offensive or illegal conduct). The Salonus Firm can handle the filing of your EEOC charge to ensure that your claims are properly stated and all of your federally protected rights are preserved. Employees must know, however, that Title VII only applies to employers that have (fifteen) 15 or more employees.
Similar to Title VII, the Tennessee Human Rights Act is the primary state law that prohibits discrimination against employees on the basis of sex, creed, national origin, race, color, religion, and age. The Tennessee Human Rights Act applies to employers with eight (8) or more employees and also includes the protected category of age and therefore, it casts a little broader net than Title VII.
Disability under state law is protected under the Tennessee Disability Act, which prohibits an employer of any size from discriminating against employees with physical, mental, or visual disabilities. Unlike its federal counterpart, the Americans with Disabilities Act (which must be enforced first through the EEOC), the Tennessee Disability Act does not necessarily provide for a reasonable accommodation to be provided by the employer.
Additionally, your employer is prohibited from retaliating against you based upon your exercise of a protected right under Title VII and other anti-discrimination laws, such as the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) or the Family Medical Leave Act (FMLA). Jessica Salonus, as a knowledgeable employment attorney, can assist Tennessee workers in determining whether a retaliation claim may be appropriate in their circumstances.