Melanie Lemon v. Williamson County Schools, Et Al.

Melanie Lemon v. Williamson County Schools, Et Al.
M2018-01878-SC-R11-CV


We granted permission to appeal in this case to address whether a claim for wrongful termination of employment can be asserted under the Teacher Tenure Act, Tennessee Code Annotated sections 49-5-501 to -515, by classifying a tenured teacher’s resignation as a constructive discharge rather than a voluntary quit. The plaintiff tenured teacher in this appeal quit her teaching position and sued for wrongful termination under the Tenure Act. We conclude that the doctrine of constructive discharge is inconsistent with the robust procedural framework in the Act, intended to give tenured teachers ample opportunity to be heard and ensure that dismissal decisions are made methodically, with transparency, and by consensus of professional educators. We reverse the Court of Appeals’ decision to apply the doctrine of constructive discharge to the plaintiff’s claims, and we hold that constructive discharge is not applicable to wrongful termination claims under the Tenure Act. We affirm the trial court’s dismissal of those claims. We also affirm the lower courts’ dismissal of the plaintiff teacher’s tort claims against the school system and individual school officials.

Authoring Judge: 
Justice Holly Kirby
Originating Judge: 
Judge Joseph A. Woodruff
Date Filed: 
Thursday, January 7, 2021