Election commission fires employee who filed complaints

Thursday, February 10, 2011 at 10:05pm

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. 

7 Comments on this post:

By: govskeptic on 2/11/11 at 6:09

Filing complaints before one knows they are fired is an
old tactic that is used by many government employees.
This lady has been a thorn versus asset to that office
for many-many yrs. Gig is up, but Mr. Barrett will attempt
to make it the worst employment case in Metro History!

By: justice2003 on 2/11/11 at 9:13

Dear webmaster,I do know that you and members of your team has came down to visit me at the campus.Unfourtually,i was not availabale because i had joined the program at the campus and you came at the wrong time.I have a lot to share with you and i hope that the Metro government pay for all the things that they are doing like they own the city.They shouldn't be fireing people just for polital gain or showing favorortizim just for the next person to get elected.I think that she was treated unfairly just as I.Those chief and poll copridinators are all for themselves and it goes even futher,I should know since I was railroaded by them.I know there every move, just like they know mine, and by them hireing people makeing sure that they cover their tracks it's going to help only make things worst.She has a right to file a complaint just like i did too!. On members of the Legeslative board who are all committing misconduct in purformancing of duty for purposses of misleading another witch is a feloney which carries purgury charges.2-19-104 2-19-105 in the tennessee supreme book of oath.

By: pepaw on 2/11/11 at 10:13

Tennessee, basically has "NO" safeguards that favor the employee. As demonstrated by this article, a personal dislike, favor, or any legimate reason does not have to exist for a non-unionized emplyor to simple fire an employee. Without expensive legal services, there is no choice for the employee but except.
Tennessee could pass laws that require proof positive that any employee has violated company policies, or failed to preform duties as prescribed. Written as well as discussed issues by both parties prior to a termination process being enacted.
Again, without expensive legal assistance, the employee has no rights in Tennessee.

By: morpheus120 on 2/11/11 at 10:58

This is one of the reasons why the Election Commission employees need to be Civil Service employees. There is no reason for them not to be, especially in an office that is so crucial to the proper functioning of our democracy and which is vulnerable to politicization.

By: pswindle on 2/11/11 at 11:53

Lynn is a repuiblican. Do we have any democrats in the office? It is terrilbe when you have to take the lumps that the boss dishes out without a voice. The other woman needs to be fired, also.

By: richgoose on 2/12/11 at 3:25

I love it when a bad person is fired for any reason. I do not know this woman who filed these complaints but I would be surprised if she could find work in the private sector. I take that back. Maybe Hardee or Whataburger.

By: Loner on 2/13/11 at 5:23

So, one Barrett (Lionel) is protecting another Barrett (Ray)? Both Barret's work for the Elections Commission? If they are not related, the article should have stated so, I assume they are relatives. And this article does not mention the nepotism angle? Why not? I go with the complainant, this just smells like a filthy cover-up, family style.

It seems that in TN, family values have a wholly different meaning. Nepotism in government is commonplace and the voters simply tolerate it. Throw these royal families out of office....liberate yourselves from this sort of insidious tyranny.