A former employee is suing the Tennessee Lottery in federal court, saying supervisors constantly sexually harassed her and then had her fired for complaining.
Former District Manager Denise Armstrong filed the suit Wednesday in federal court in Nashville, seeking her job back, back pay and an injunction against further harassment. In her suit, she names several supervisors, including current Executive Vice President of Sales Sidney Chambers, as creating a work environment hostile to women because of inappropriate remarks and sexual harassment.
Armstrong's attorney, Andy Allman, couldn't be reached for comment. Officials with the Tennessee Lottery declined to comment on the lawsuit.
Armstrong had been an employee since 2003 and, according to her lawsuit, had been rewarded for her performance. But the suit says the harassment was constant.
For example, Chambers and other supervisors would joke about hiring "young pretty girls" for promotions and events and that they should hold a "hot yoga class" for female employees, the suit says. At a May 2012 convention, another supervisor, who has since retired, was called out for making inappropriate remarks about and even to female attendees.
The lawsuit says that even male employees took notice.
"On July 31 (2012), a male district manager for (the lottery) submitted a complaint to the President of the Tennessee Education Lottery detailing the toxic work environment and prevalent gender discrimination," the lawsuit said.
The lottery fired Armstrong on June 12, 2013. She filed a complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission two months later, a step that helps clear the way for filing a lawsuit.
Reach Brian Haas at 615-726-8968 and on Twitter @brianhaas.
This isn't the first time Tennessee Lottery employees have complained about harassment. In 2006, the lottery's second-in-command, Steve Adams, was fired after sending crude and sexual emails to at least one female subordinate. In the aftermath of his firing, previous reports were released accusing Adams of groping an employee's rear at a 2004 event and pressuring another woman to dance against her wishes.