Nashville, Tennessee Companies Facing Discrimination and Retaliation Lawsuits

September 23, 2009 by Jim Higgins

Nashville, TN businesses are facing a number of Title IV discrimination lawsuits for outlandish actions at the workplace almost unimaginable in 2009. Examples of these discrimination lawsuits that have increasingly been publicly filed against Nashville, TN companies can be found in the sexual discrimination lawsuit filed by the Equal Opportunity Employment Commission (EEOC) this Monday against Southeastern Telecom and the racial discrimination lawsuit against Nashville Electric Service.

At the core of the EEOC sex discrimination lawsuit is the claim that Nashville-based Southeastern Telecom retaliated against one of its female employees when she filed a sex discrimination complaint. Suzanne Sword, an account executive, had complained to her manager about gender discrimination and how she saw jobs were assigned according to sex. Once this sexual discrimination complaint had been filed, the EEOC lawsuit alleges, Southeastern Telecom fired Sword, having first disabled her computer and restricted her company email and intraweb access during the week it took for the company to fire her. The retaliation lawsuit seeks recovery of backwages, among other damages.

Another Title IV discrimination lawsuit gaining national coverage regards race discrimination allegations made by 20 former or current African-American utility workers against Nashville Electric Service and the city government. These allegations of discrimination based on race at the Nashville-based utility center on hiring and promotion practices and hostile work environment. Allegations of retaliation are also included for some plaintiffs in this federal Title IV discrimination lawsuit.

Three plaintiffs have stated that a dark-skinned training dummy with a noose placed around its neck was kept at the work during the racially charged time of September 2007. For those of you who do not recall, two years ago there were various civil rights protests in Jena, LA where local high school students had performed acts of racially-motivated violence against minorities and, to commemorate, hung nooses around the school. Three electrical workers were suspended for the act at the time, but other white employees took donations to make sure those suspended would not suffer lose of pay for their actions. One employee claims her car was vandalized for reporting the incident.

Many more African-American employees were made to suffer racial slurs at the workplace from co-workers and supervisors. Moreover, management, it is alleged, never reprimanded or took disciplinary action against Nashville Electric Service employees who wore Confederate flags and other Confederate regalia during working hours. To further describe this environmental racially hostile to its Black employees, the lawsuit also claims a foreman told an employee with the utility for 20 years, “During Black History Month where I come from, we hang people.”

The workplace discrimination lawsuit filed this week requests class action status for more than 100 current, former, and prospective employees and that the court to order NES to restructure its workforce and award back pay and other damages to discriminated workers.

At the Higgins firm, we take seriously the charges of discrimination and actively fight for those individuals discriminated against. Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Equal Pay Act protect employees who make complaints of sex- or race-based discrimination from retaliation. If you have been retaliated against for making a formal complaint of workplace discrimination, or if workplace discrimination has affected your ability to work or cost you your job, I and my fellow TN employment law attorneys can help. I encourage you to complete our online TN employment lawyer inquiry form or to call our Nashville, TN employment law offices directly at 615-353-0930.