Effective July 1, 2014: Caps To Be Placed on Non-Monetary Damages Sought Under the THRA, TDA, and TPPA

Tennessee’s governor just signed a highly significant employment litigation reform bill that will benefit employers throughout the state. The new law applies to all causes of action starting July 1, 2014. The bill places caps on the availability of non-monetary damages (pain, suffering, humiliation, embarrassment, etc.) that employees can seek under the Tennessee Human Rights Act (THRA), the Tennessee Disability Act (TDA), and the Tennessee Public Protection Act (TPPA). The caps range from $25,000 to $300,000, depending on the number of employees that the employer employs. The caps do not limit back pay or front pay.

This legislation also eliminates common law claims for retaliatory discharge in any litigation that could be brought under the TPPA. Previously, employees could bring both common law and statutory claims for “whistleblowing,” which the statute defines as the refusal to participate in or remain silent about illegal activities. But, under this new legislation, an employee may only pursue such claims under the TPPA, which requires the employee to prove that the alleged whistleblowing was the “sole cause” of the termination. As a result, the new law essentially prevents employees from benefiting from the common law’s lower causation standard.

In addition, the new law provides that an employee may not concurrently maintain separate causes of action brought under the THRA, TDA, and TPPA in both state and federal courts based on the same operative facts. Now the state court is required to dismiss the state court action upon motion by the employer.

Finally, the new law eliminates individual supervisor liability that had been available under the THRA—forcing employees to bring their claims against their employer, rather than the individual supervisors or managers involved in decision-making relating to the employee’s employment.

These new changes are a “win” for Tennessee employers in their defense of discrimination and retaliation claims. Starting July 1, 2014, the THRA, TDA, and TPPA will be in line with the current state of most federal nondiscrimination laws.


Written by:

Published In:

DISCLAIMER: Because of the generality of this update, the information provided herein may not be applicable in all situations and should not be acted upon without specific legal advice based on particular situations.

© Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart, P.C. | Attorney Advertising

Don't miss a thing! Build a custom news brief:

Read fresh new writing on compliance, cybersecurity, Dodd-Frank, whistleblowers, social media, hiring & firing, patent reform, the NLRB, Obamacare, the SEC…

…or whatever matters the most to you. Follow authors, firms, and topics on JD Supra.

Create your news brief now - it's free and easy »

All the intelligence you need, in one easy email:

Great! Your first step to building an email digest of JD Supra authors and topics. Log in with LinkedIn so we can start sending your digest...

Sign up for your custom alerts now, using LinkedIn ›

* With LinkedIn, you don't need to create a separate login to manage your free JD Supra account, and we can make suggestions based on your needs and interests. We will not post anything on LinkedIn in your name.