published Thursday, July 7th, 2011

Court Briefs: Pantry store suit claims race bias

Pantry store suit claims race bias

A former assistant manager at a St. Elmo gas station and convenience store has sued the company and her boss, alleging she was not promoted because she is black.

Tara Gravitt had been assistant manager at The Pantry, 3740 Tennessee Ave., since 2002. In 2008, the store manager was removed and Gravitt was acting store manager for six months, according to the suit.

Gravitt asked her district manager, Ron Jones, to promote her to store manager, but he declined, the suit states.

A white female manager from the company’s Trenton, Ga., location took over managing the store for one month before being sent to manage another Georgia store, according to court documents, and that manager was replaced by another white female manager, Lela Nunley.

Nunley left earlier this year and Gravitt was not given the promotion and another white female, Juanita Hall, was given the job, the suit says.

In August 2009, Gravitt gave a deposition in a race discrimination claim by Pantry employee Stanley Mills that also named Jones. Gravitt’s suit claims the company retaliated against her by not promoting her despite her completion of management training and positive work reviews.

Gravitt asks for lost wages and unspecified damages in the Hamilton County Chancery Court lawsuit filed June 30.

The company had not filed a response to the complaint as of Wednesday.

Mill suit claims sex offenses

A former employee of the Archer-Daniels-Midland flour milling plant in Chattanooga has sued the company for sex discrimination.

Maureen Melvin began working at the plant in August 2008, one of only two women. While working in the packing department, she learned of a relationship between her supervisor, Dee Martin, and the other female worker, according to documents filed in Hamilton County Chancery Court.

Beginning in April 2010, the documents state, Martin began making “unwelcome sexual advances and sexual remarks” about Melvin’s body, offering money for sexual favors. Melvin “rebuffed” his advances, the suit states.

In June 2010, Martin was moved to another shift, but he returned about five weeks later and began making unwelcome advances again, the suit states.

Melvin reported Martin’s conduct in July to shift supervisor Marcus Williams, who told her to call plant manager Jerry Klum, according to the suit. Soon the confidential report was known to many employees, the suit states.

Martin was not suspended or reassigned but remained Melvin’s direct supervisor and he continued to taunt, harass, criticize and threaten her, the suit claims.

Melvin’s complaint says that human resources employee Mia Jackson told her that the investigation found no backing for her complaint and no witnesses to the alleged harassment.

Melvin seeks unspecified damages for lost wages and mental and physical suffering from “anger, humiliation, frustration, suspicion and fear.”

ADM’s attorneys had not filed a response to the lawsuit as of Wednesday.

Casino owner bragged on bill

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Country Crossing casino developer Ronnie Gilley admitted Wednesday that he bragged to people that he and his lobbyists, not VictoryLand casino owner Milton McGregor, were responsible for passing pro-gambling legislation.

Gilley, who has pleaded guilty to offering bribes, returned to the witness stand Wednesday in Alabama’s gambling corruption trial after being out for a week due to illness. He is a key prosecution witness in the trial of McGregor and eight others accused of conspiring with Gilley to buy and sell votes on pro-gambling legislation.

Defense attorneys used Gilley’s own words, captured in FBI wiretaps on his phones, to attack his credibility in the fifth week of the trial.

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