Does the Tennessee Human Rights Act protect against sexual orientation discrimination?

If you read my post below about the Arkansas Civil Rights Act, you can already guess where I am likely going with this post, but there is a serious exception.  In Tennessee, the state courts do not necessarily follow federal Title VII interpretation with regard to Tennessee’s similar Human Rights Act; however, the Tennessee Supreme Court will seriously consider such interpretations of law to “maintain continuity between state and federal law.”  Allen v. McPhee, 240 S.W.3d 803, 812 (Tenn. 2007).  This is a bit less of an endorsement of federal interpretations of Title VII than what is found in Arkansas, but it still results in serious deference at the state level to federal interpretation of the federal law and, as a result, the Human Rights Act.  As such, if a federal court in Tennessee or the Sixth Circuit (and to a lesser extent in some other circuit) were to interpret Title VII as protecting against sexual orientation discrimination, the Tennessee Human Rights Act could arguably be used for those same protections at the state level.

About James M. Scurlock

I practice law in the state and federal courts of both Tennessee and Arkansas. I have associations with attorneys practicing in Texas, Oklahoma, Mississippi, Alabama, and Georgia.

I have extensive involvement in litigation in the areas of contract, employment, and civil rights law.

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