Three Black Employees Sue Nashville Electric Service Over Racist Work Culture

Three Black Employees Sue Nashville Electric Service Over Racist Work Culture

A Nashville power company is facing allegations of racism.

Three employees who work for Nashville Electric Service (NES) are accusing the company of engaging in racist culture, The Tennessean reports, and are speaking out about it. 

Tim Jones, Walter Clark, and Jimmie Hunt, who have worked for NES for an approximate combination of 35 years, say working for the company has provided them with a comfortable lifestyle but there are hidden tactics that can make the work environment unbearable. 

Hunt, a supervisor, said he was called racial slurs numerous times by his white coworkers and even remembered a noose being left in a smoking area. Hunt said that he, along with other minority coworkers, were  passed over for  several promotions. After trying to hold it together for years, Hunt is now approaching retirement and feels it’s time for a major culture change so Black people can feel safe. 

“Do you really want them to come here and have to deal with that?” Hunt said. “It was disturbing in a lot of ways.” 

Hunt, Jones, and Clark are suing NES claiming their promotion process is discriminatory, subjected to a hostile work environment and NES has done nothing about it. Their attorney and vice president of the National Bar Association, Ashley Upkins, says the lawsuit isn’t about money – it’s about making it right. 

“Despite having dedicated workers that have worked there for very long periods of time, NES leaders refuse to address the issue,” Upkins said. “And so now, this is what they find to be their only recourse after being abused for so long.” 

This isn’t the first time lawsuits regarding discrimination in the promotion process–dubbed the “NES Way”-have been brought to the service’s attention.

Over the years, several lawsuits concerning work culture and other practices have been filed. 

One class action suit was filed by a group of Black employees in 2009 and settled in 2011. NES’ president and CEO, Teresa Broyles-Aplin, says she’s aware of the lawsuits and claims 

“NES does not condone or tolerate discrimination of any type,” Broyles-Aplin said in a statement. “”NES embraces diversity, equity, and inclusion, and our goal is to foster a work environment in which all of our employees feel welcome, safe, and appreciated.

On top of racial discrimination lawsuits, NES settled a $2.5 million lawsuit in June from more than 100 employees over lost overtime wages going back three years.