Tennessee Employee Handbooks laws & HR compliance analysis

Tennessee Employee Handbooks: What you need to know

Employee handbooks should be drafted according to the particular needs of each individual workplace and in accordance with the requirements of state and federal law. Employers should try to develop policies and procedures that reflect the company's size, employee needs, and company philosophy. Employers should have an attorney familiar with state labor and employment laws review their handbooks for legal accuracy and timeliness. Outdated or erroneous policies can be as dangerous as not having policies at all.
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Employers should exercise caution when developing handbooks and related policy statements. To avoid implied contract claims, employers should issue only general statements of policy in employee handbooks and should always include an explicit statement reserving the right to alter, amend, or change any handbook policy at any time and for any reason.
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)).

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