A Davidson County Election Commission worker who last summer filed two separate complaints against the agency based on its office environment was recently fired from her position.
Janette Gates, as of January a former poll official coordinator of the elections office, filed a complaint in August alleging election commission chair Lynn Greer of expressing favoritism toward and protecting the employment of another commission employee, Nancy Tice. The grievance, which accuses Tice of harassing Gates and accuses Greer of shielding Tice from disciplinary action, was filed with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Tennessee Human Rights Commission.
A month later, Gates issued a second complaint, this time with Metro Department of Human Resources, against the election commission’s chief deputy, Joan Nixon. According to one source, the complaint accuses Nixon of gender bias. A different source said the complaint centers only on Nixon being rude on the telephone.
Both complaints, still active, were made when former Elections Administrator Ray Barrett oversaw the department. His retirement late last year led to the hiring of Albert Tieche, who officially began his tenure in early January.
An elections official confirmed to The City Paper Thursday that Tieche dismissed Gates last month. Her final day of employment was Jan. 21.
Tieche deferred questions on the firing to Lionel Barrett, the election commission’s human resources coordinator.
“Our new administrator, Mr. Albert Tieche, simply made a determination that he thought it was in the best interest of the agency to terminate Ms. Gates,” Barrett said. “We are a non-civil service agency, and the administrator has made his decision that it was in the best interest of the organization for Ms. Gates to be terminated.”
When asked for a reason for the firing, Barrett again pointed to Tieche’s statutory authority to use his discretion to hire and terminate for the well being of the commission. Pressed on whether the active complaints played a role in her dismissal, Barrett said they did not.
“There is no question that whatever the administrator took into consideration, the EEOC complaints played absolutely no factor –– zero, none at all,” Barrett said. “It was simply felt that it was in the best interest of the organization for her to be separated.”
Greer has denied exhibiting any favoritism toward Tice, who still works for the election commission.
“It’s my opinion, based on what I know that went on when Ray [Barrett] was administrator, there was no discrimination against [Gates] because of her gender,” Greer said. “And I did not interfere with Nancy [Tice] being [possibly] fired because nobody ever told me she was going to be fired.
“Nobody said to me, ‘I’d like to fire Nancy Tice,’ Greer said. “She was not protected by me.”
Efforts to contact Gates were unsuccessful. Metro Human Resources spokeswoman Robin Brown did not immediately return a voicemail The City Paper left Thursday afternoon.