MEMPHIS, Tenn.– Memphis-Shelby County Schools human resources chief Yolanda Martin says she was “blindsided” by the district placing her on leave.
MSCS confirmed late Friday that the district placed Martin on administrative leave. The district didn’t explain why, but in a statement, the superintendent said “The district investigates all employee complaints as we continue our ongoing efforts to emphasize integrity.”
Martin told WREG that someone from the district called her early last week and told her she was being investigated and placed on leave. She said the district refused to provide details when she and her attorney asked why.
Martin says she’s surprised because the leave comes as she’s “still active under doctor’s care” for family and medical leave.
She provided us a copy of an email dated Tuesday, Sept. 13 which was sent to Interim Superintendent Toni Williams and the deputy superintendent.
“I am just returning from the doctor and unfortunately have been placed on FMLA,” it reads. In the email, Martin also says she submitted medical documentation to the employee portal.
The email gets into more than Martin’s FMLA. The subject line is “Retaliation Concerns.”
It came shortly after another district leader, John Barker, was placed on leave as the district investigated claims of discrimination and hostility in the workplace, reportedly stemming from a complaint filed by Martin.
Martin sent WREG a copy of the eight-page complaint she filed in August with district and board leaders about Barker.
In the September email, Martin accused Barker of “reaching out to former employees” and “attempting to galvanize them to write statements/file false complaints” against her in what she described as retaliation.
Martin also said she doesn’t want women to be deterred from speaking up if and when they are harassed and doesn’t want them to fear retaliation.
We spoke to an employment attorney who says an employee’s status is legally protected during FMLA, but if there’s an independent basis for discipline, then the leave doesn’t protect them from that.
WREG has not obtained independent copies of the documents provided by Martin. We reached out to Memphis-Shelby County Schools and we’re waiting to hear back.