2010 Tennessee Code
Title 49 - Education
Chapter 6 - Elementary and Secondary Education
Part 80 - Tennessee School Employee Religious Liberty Act of 1999
49-6-8004 - Rights of employees.

49-6-8004. Rights of employees.

(a)  A school employee shall have the right to carry out an activity described in any of subdivisions (b)(1)-(4); provided, that the school employee:

     (1)  Does not interfere with the rights of other school employees;

     (2)  Does not disrupt the educational process;

     (3)  Does not harass other persons or coerce other persons to participate in the activity; and

     (4)  Does not otherwise infringe on the rights of other persons.

(b)  Subject to subsection (a), a school employee shall be permitted to voluntarily:

     (1)  Read a religious book during non-instructional time;

     (2)  Quietly say grace before a meal;

     (3)  Wear religious garb or jewelry that does not disrupt the school environment; and

     (4)  Meet with other school employees for prayer or scriptural study before or after school or during the employee's lunch period.

(c)  No action may be maintained pursuant to this part unless the school employee has exhausted the following administrative remedies:

     (1)  The school employee states the employee's complaint to the school's principal;

     (2)  If the concerns are not resolved, then the school employee shall make complaint in writing to the director of schools with the specific facts of the alleged violation;

     (3)  The director of schools shall investigate and take appropriate action to ensure that the rights of the school employee are resolved within thirty (30) days of receiving the written complaint; and

     (4)  Only after the director of schools' investigation and action may a school employee pursue any other legal action pursuant to this part.

(d)  If a right of a school employee established under this section is violated by a public school, the employee may assert the violation as a cause of action or a defense in a judicial proceeding, administrative or disciplinary hearing and obtain injunctive relief against the public school. The action shall be brought in the circuit or chancery court where the violation occurred or where the employee resides. Standing to assert a cause of action or defense under this section shall be governed by the Tennessee rules of civil procedure and common law interpretations of those rules.

(e)  A school employee prevailing in a claim brought against a public school for a violation of this section may be awarded reasonable attorney fees and costs.

[Acts 1999, ch. 334, § 1.]  

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