Residency Requirements

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Under a state law found at T.C.A. § 8-50-107, county employers can require all new employees hired after a certain date to be residents of the county, but counties cannot dismiss or penalize current employees solely on the basis of non-residence in the county.[1]   Because county government is the servant of the area lying within its jurisdiction, a county may want to adopt a requirement that employees reside within the county. A residency requirement could be viewed as a method of providing job opportunities to residents who pay taxes in a particular county. A county employer that desires to enact a residency requirement should make it effective for all employees hired after the creation of the policy. In order to avoid requirements that could impact some group or class of people in a discriminatory way, new employees should be given time to comply with the residency provisions if they do not already live in the designated area..[2]

[1]  Op. Tenn. Att’y Gen. U91-137 (Nov. 19, 1991); Op. Tenn. Att’y Gen. U91-138 (Nov. 19, 1991).  T.C.A. § 8-50-107 does not apply to counties having a metropolitan form of government nor to counties with populations between 275,000 and 400,000 according to the 1970 or any subsequent census.

[2]  The constitutionality of governmental employers imposing residency requirements is discussed in Op. Tenn. Att’y Gen. 01-007 (Jan. 17, 2001), wherein the Attorney General opined that such requirements are considered constitutional under the Commerce Clause, the Privileges and Immunities Clause, and, as long as a rational basis for the requirement exists, under the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution, as well as under the Tennessee Constitution. See Civil Service Merit Bd. of City of Knoxville v. Burson, 816 S.W.2d 725 (Tenn.1991). See also Op. Tenn. Att'y Gen. 12-92 (Oct. 3, 2012).