Lawsuit Filed Against Tennessee Department Of Labor
By Ben Hall
NASHVILLE, Tenn. - A former high ranking employee at the Tennessee Department of Labor has filed a wrongful termination lawsuit claiming the commissioner is pushing white employees out the door.
Donald Ingram blasts commissioner Karla Davis for "decimating" the department and for discriminating against white employees.
The lawsuit is now in Federal Court, and claims Commissioner Davis, who was appointed by Governor Haslam, has forced out or fired dozens of longtime employees.
It claims "virtually every one of the employees who were terminated or forced out" "was Caucasian" and "virtually all of their replacements were of African American descent."
NewsChannel 5 Investigates has confirmed that the department has seen large turnover.
In the last year and a half, more than 300 employees have left the department.
Ingram, who oversaw the career centers throughout the state, claims in the lawsuit, "In many cases the replacements did not have qualifications, including knowledge and experience equal to the persons they replaced but were compensated at a higher level."
In fact, NewsChannel 5 Investigates has learned the Department of Labor has not been meeting federal standards for getting benefits to people filing for unemployment.
The state is supposed to process claims in 21 days.
But currently 10,000 people have waited longer than that, according to the Department of Labor.
Some people have waited two months for a decision on their benefits.
"When I took my letter into the career center they told me that it may be as much as 8 weeks before I received my first check," Kristine Bolden said in an interview last month.
She was let go from her job and desperate to get her unemployment benefits. She couldn't understand what was taking so long.
A spokesman for the Department of Labor said last month that they are working to meet federal standards.
"We know the federal government requires, at least sets a standard, that we do that in 21 days. We're only doing that 80 percent of the time," said spokesman Jeff Hentschel.
Hentschel said the department is now hiring more employees to deal with the backlog.
On Tuesday, the department did not have any comment on the lawsuit.