Tennessee Woman Triumphs in Right-to-Work Case


Tennessee is a right-to-work state, which means no worker is required to join a union as terms of employment. When a woman working at Fort Campbell, an army installation on the border of Tennessee and Kentucky, refused to join the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA), she was met with “years of bullying and discrimination” from union officials.

Religious Exemption Denied

The woman declined to join LIUNA even though it was required by her employer, J&J Worldwide Service, because she is Catholic and the union funds and supports abortion rights. Instead, she requested an exemption from paying union dues and submitted a letter from her priest.

When her request for exemption was denied, she filed a discrimination charge against LIUNA with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC). Even though J&J argued that Fort Campbell was a federal enclave not subject to state law, her discrimination case prevailed.

Discrimination Case Settled

Ultimately, LIUNA offered the woman $10,000 and an apology in exchange for withdrawing her case. The woman accepted the settlement, stating:

I knew in my heart and in my soul that I was right.”

Her representatives, the National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation issued the following statement in support of their client:

[Our client] refused to forsake her religious beliefs and stood firm for her rights…She has now prevailed decisively against LIUNA’s illegal attempt to force her to choose between remaining true to her beliefs and staying employed.”

Employer Requirements Regarding Unions

In Tennessee, employers may not force you to join a union or fire you for joining one. Under the Tennessee Right to Work Law (Tennessee Code Annotated §50-1-201), it is illegal for employers to:

  • Deny employment to any person based on their union membership
  • Fire someone for refusing to pay union dues
  • Broker agreements between employees and labor unions

Violations of the Right to Work Law constitute a Class A misdemeanor and come with various civil penalties.

Employees who have been fired or denied employment due to their union status or activities also have the right to file a lawsuit against their employers.

If you need help creating a case against your employer, Donati Law, PLLC is here for you. We have been fighting for employee rights for more than 35 years, and we can stand up for you, as well.

Our mission is to improve your life and our shared community. We do this by holding employers accountable and helping employees move forward.

Call us at (901) 209-5500 or contact us online to discuss your rights and legal options with an experienced attorney and make your case our cause.

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To discuss your case with an accomplished attorney who cares, give our firm a call at (901) 209-5500 or fill out the form below.

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