Tennessee is considered an “at-will” state, and employees can be legally terminated for virtually any reason, or for no reason at all. This is an especially sensitive area of employment, when our modern society is constantly under scrutiny. Pursuing a case for wrongful termination can be difficult, especially over something you did outside of work.
What is an “At-Will” Employee?
“At-will employment” is based on the premise of voluntary employment relationships. This means that your relationship with an employer is entirely voluntary and can be terminated by either party (employer or employee) without notice, at any time and for any reason – or for no reason.
This means any employee who is considered “at-will” can be terminated for any non-illegal reason. This often includes what an employee does outside of work. Exceptions to this would include some form of employment contact that specifies employment parameters or union membership that also precludes at-will treatment.
Tennessee state law verifies that, “Employers may legally terminate an employee at any time for any reason, or for no reason without incurring legal liability. However, an employer may not discriminate against any employee on the basis of the employee’s race, sex, age, religion, color, national origin, or disability. Likewise, an employee is free to leave a job at any time for any or no reason with no adverse legal consequences.”
Some exclusions apply, meaning your employer cannot fire you over certain issues, including:
- A call to military service
- Exercising a right to association
- Filing a Workers’ Compensation claim
- A call to jury duty
But as long as the basis for your termination is not discriminatory or otherwise illegal, Tennessee employers may legally fire an employee for actions, statements, or behavior off the clock they deem unfavorable, unprofessional, or distasteful.
The Social Media Conundrum
Our modern online society shares literally everything over social media. Arguments about this will vary widely, but the fact remains that social media is public and any activity there can be discovered by your employer. Common social media postings that can put your job at risk include:
- Negative comments about your job/employer
- Sharing proprietary information
- Sharing the inner workings of your place of employment
- Deceptive posts
- Inappropriate posts or images
- Comments about searching for another job
- Praising a competitor
- Opinions on controversial topics / political issues or figures
Another factor to consider with social media is that nothing online never goes away. It can always be accessed somehow. Posts from years in the past can come back to bite you. A good rule of thumb for posting on social media is that if you have any doubts, don’t post it – and never post anything while you are angry.
What Can I Do If I Suspect Wrongful Termination in Tennessee?
If you suspect you may have a case for wrongful termination, you must be able to prove you were terminated in violation of the law or a written employment contract.
Illegal reasons for being terminated include:
- Firing that violates federal and state anti-discrimination laws
- Firing as a form of sexual harassment
- Firing that violates state or federal labor laws
- Firing in retaliation because the employee filed a complaint or claim against the employer
- Firing in retaliation because the employee filed a Workers’ Compensation claim after an injury suffered at work
If you have been fired in Tennessee for activities you engaged in when not at work, you should contact an experienced Employment Law Attorney in Memphis right away. The Crone Law Firm can share more about your rights as an employee and explain your options for possible legal action.
Contact The Crone Law Firm in Memphis, TN at (901) 737-7740 or complete the contact form online to request a private consultation.