How to Report an Employer to the Labor Board in Tennessee

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Welders are working in a shop.
Welders are working in a shop. (Image: Hill Street Studios/Blend Images/Getty Images)

Not all workplace complaints in Tennessee are filed with the same agency. Different divisions of the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development handle different types of complaints. For example, the Division of Labor Standards enforces child labor laws and regulations involving wages. The Division of Occupational Safety and Health handles complaints of workplace hazards. The state's Commission on Human Rights, an independent state agency, handles discrimination reports. How to report an employer who is violating labor standards depends on the specific situation.

Discrimination Complaints

Tennessee follows federal law in declaring discrimination illegal. Employers are prohibited from unfairness based on an employee's age, gender, race, color, national origin, disability or religion. To file a discrimination complaint, the employee should contact the Tennessee Commission on Human Rights at 615-741-5825. An employee can also contact the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to report discrimination. The Nashville office is at 220 Athens Way, Suite 350, or the worker can phone toll-free at 800-669-4000.

Safety and Health Concerns

If an employee is concerned about workplace hazards that threaten the safety and health of workers, he can file a complaint with the Division of Occupational Safety and Health of the Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development. The employee files a formal complaint by completing a written form. In addition, if the employee so desires, the report can be made without the employer knowing the employee's identity.

Illegal Discipline or Firing

Barring discrimination, businesses in Tennessee can discipline, suspend, or terminate an employee "at will," meaning at any time for almost any reason. A few exceptions in the state's laws prohibit Tennessee employers from firing or punishing an employee for serving on a jury, voting, filing a workers' compensation claim, serving in the military, having wages garnished and joining or refusing to join a labor union or other employee organization. If an employee is disciplined for one of these exceptions to the "at-will" relationship, she can contact the state labor department at 615-741-6642.

Wage Matters

If an employee cannot collect proper wages he's due, he can file a complaint against the employer. If two employees are paid different wages for doing the same job, this inequality can be reported to the same office -- the Division of Labor Standards at 866-588-6814.

Legal Protection

Tennessee's "Whistle Blower's Law" prohibits an employer from retaliating against employees who warn an employer about breaking the law or employees who complain about a business to a regulatory agency. This means the employer cannot terminate or discipline the employee for reporting illegal activities.

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