Tennessee is an “employment-at-will” state. Therefore, an employer may generally terminate an employment relationship at any time and for any reason unless a collective bargaining agreement, employment contract, existing law, or recognized public policy provides otherwise.
In keeping with a strong presumption in favor of the at-will standard, the Tennessee courts have traditionally held that general statements contained in an employee handbook or policy manual maynot result in the formation of an employment contract (Rose v. Tipton County Public Works Dept., 953 S.W.2d 690 (Tenn. App. Ct. 1997)).
However, contractual obligations may arise if the language in the employee handbook demonstrates the employer's intent to be bound by its provisions (Reed v. Alamo Rent-A-Car, Inc., 4 S.W.3d 677 (Tenn. App. Ct. 1999)).