Records made public yesterday by a Nashville judge indicated that sexual harassment led to the firing of Steve Adams, the former No. 2 official at the Tennessee Lottery.
Before the decision in the lawsuit brought by The NashvillePost.com, the nature of the workplace harassment was unclear. The document, a Jan. 5 letter that Adams received, confirmed the reason for his termination as the lottery's chief administrative officer.
"We can't operate in an environment where our employees or vendors are afraid of retaliation stemming from un-wanted sexual advances," read the letter from Wanda Young Wilson, the Lottery's executive vice president and general counsel.
Adams, who has never seen the investigative file and has maintained he never harassed anyone, said last night that the letter was crafted to justify his firing. "The letter contains no factual information regarding the allegations leveled against me," he said.
He said dates of three allegations were laid out, but that "to my knowledge, there's never been a written complaint filed" and "there was no attempt at investigation of the allegations until the 29th of December, when I was interviewed."
Davidson County Chancellor Carol McCoy chastised the lottery, saying it appeared that Adams "was not afforded any due process" and that the court "was offended" by the complaints' lack of specifics.
However, Wilson wrote that there had been allegations "involving (Adams) over the past two years." Adams was warned, Wilson said, but after "yet another allegation" lottery management consulted the state attorney general's office and was told to investigate.
"The conclusion of the investigation is that your actions have created significant potential exposure both from current and future employees ... in terms of sexual harassment."
Adams said the transcript of yesterday's hearing "reflects what my concerns have been from the very beginning. That is, I don't believe my termination was justified."
NashvillePost.com sued after lottery officials refused media attempts to obtain documents about Adams' dismissal, citing attorney-client privilege.
In yesterday's hearing, the online firm's attorneys argued that public interest superseded the lottery's desire to keep the matter under wraps.
Adams said he also wanted the file open.
McCoy ordered the lottery to give Adams the file within 10 days.
Afterward, if Adams does not object, the lottery will have to make the file available to the press.
Adams said last night that he was "very pleased" with the court order.
The Tennessee Lottery's termination letter of Steve Adams