Tennessee Employers May Be Immune To Mental Anguish Claims

F.J. Thomas

Nashville, TN (WorkersCompensation.com) –A new amendment to Tennessee’s Healthy Workplace Act may offer employers protection from lawsuits for mental anguish. The new amendment became effective April 23rd when Governor Bill Lee signed H.B.856 into law expanding coverage for local and state government employers to include private employers.

The Healthy Workplace Act was originally signed into law in 2014 to address abuse in the workplace. According to the Workplace Bullying Institute, a 2017 survey indicated that 19 percent of workers have experienced abusive conduct at work resulting in stress and psychological issues. Employers can potentially be liable under unlawful harassment.

In 2015, the Tennessee Advisory Commission on Intergovernmental Relations created the Model Abusive Conduct Prevention Policy to help guide employers and employees in recognizing abusive workplace conduct.

Under Tennessee’s Healthy Workplace Act, if an employer adopts the Model Abusive Conduct Prevention Policy, they gain protection from employee state claims for mental anguish, whether by neglect or intent.

The policy includes the following elements:

  • Statement of purpose, values and commitment
  • Definitions as defined by the Healthy Workplace Act for abusive conduct
  • Details of employer and supervisor responsibilities
  • Details of employee responsibility including witness responsibilities
  • Proclamation of informing employees
  • Anti-retaliation statement
  • Training responsibilities for employers and employees
  • Complaint procedures including filing complaints, conducting investigations, resulting actions
  • Confidentiality statement

Employers wanting to find out more about adopting the anti-bullying policies in the workplace can contact the TACIR for more information.

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