The Tennessee Human Rights Commission (the Commission) is an independent state agency created in 1963 to encourage, promote and advise the public of their human rights. In 1978 the Commission transformed in an enforcement agency through the passing of the Tennessee Human Rights Act (THRA) and later, the Tennessee Disability Act (TDA), which together prohibit discrimination in housing, employment, and public accommodation on the basis of race, color, creed, national origin, religion, sex, disability, familial status (housing only), and age (over 40 in employment). The Commission also ensures the State of Tennessee’s compliance with Title VI of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 which prohibits discrimination based on race, color, and national origin by state agencies receiving federal financial assistance. The Commission’s mission is to safeguard individuals from discrimination through education and enforcement.
The Commission is governed by a nine (9) member board of commissioners serving staggered six year terms appointed by the Governor, the Lt. Governor, and the Speaker of the House, to represent the three Grand Divisions of the state. A 29 member staff of investigators, attorneys, and other professional support personnel carry out the day-to-day duties of conducting thorough investigation and educating the public about their rights and responsibilities. Staff duties include the receipt, investigation, and when necessary, litigation of discrimination complaints. When parties agree, the commission also conducts mediation and conciliation as means to resolve complaints. In addition, the commission provides technical assistance and education about the rights and requirements under the THRA and TDA laws. The Tennessee Human Rights Commission maintains its central office in Nashville and has regional offices in Knoxville, Chattanooga, and Memphis.