published Saturday, June 25th, 2011

Court OKs housing authority lawsuit

Two housing authority police investigators fired in 2004 will now have another chance to sue their former boss in Hamilton County Circuit Court.

A recent ruling by the Tennessee Supreme Court gave the two men the chance to return to court.

Timmy Sykes and Curtis Greene sued the Chattanooga Housing Authority when the agency fired them while each had filed complaints against former CHA police Chief Jeff Hazelwood.

CHA claimed it fired Sykes for a sexual harassment claim by a female housing resident and poor job performance. The agency said it fired Greene for violating its work cell phone policy.

Each were also disciplined for running a private security firm while working for CHA.

Greene and Sykes both claimed that the firings were in retaliation for complaints that Hazelwood had “frequently told officers to wire up paperwork for incidents and crimes they did not witness” and “target racial profiling” of black male residents.

Circuit Court Judge W. Jeffrey Hollingsworth ruled a summary judgment in favor of CHA on both claims, essentially saying there was not enough evidence under either the Tennessee Public Protection Act or the Tennessee Human Rights Act to prove the men were fired for their complaints.

The Tennessee Court of Appeals agreed with Hollingsworth under the TPPA claim but reversed his decision on the THRA claim.

The state Supreme Court affirmed the appeals court ruling, giving Sykes and Greene another chance to argue against their firings in Circuit Court.

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