Two New Tennessee Employment Laws Take Effect July 1

Written By Thomas Ahearn

Tennessee LawsTennessee Governor Bill Haslam has signed two new employment laws that take effect July 1, 2014. One, The Tennessee Negligent and Retention Law, is designed to provide protection to employers that hire and retain employees with convictions while helping ex-offenders gain employment. The other, Senate Bill 2126 (SB 2126), limits liability and the damages available under the state’s statutory employment discrimination laws.

The Tennessee Negligent and Retention Law helps job seekers with a criminal record find work by protecting employers from negligence claims for hiring or retaining ex-offenders who have received a “certificate of employability.” However, Tennessee employers may still be liable for retaining ex-offenders with certificates if they are convicted of a felony and the employer retains the employee despite knowing about the conviction.

Tennessee SB 2126 amends several Tennessee discrimination laws to impose caps on compensatory damages available in employment-related litigation and limit liability in certain circumstances. The caps are based on the number of employees employed on the date the alleged incident occurred: 8 to 14 employees, $25,000; 15 to 100 employees, $50,000; 101 to 200 employees, $100,000; 201 to 500 employees, $200,000; and more than 500 employees, $300,000.

As reported earlier on the ESR News Blog, Governor Haslam also signed the Employee Online Privacy Act of 2014 (S.B. 1808)  to prevent employers in Tennessee with one or more employees from requiring employees and job applicants to disclose usernames and passwords for their personal internet accounts except under certain circumstances. The text of this new law – which takes effect January 1, 2015 – is available at http://www.capitol.tn.gov/Bills/108/Bill/SB1808.pdf.

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