Human Resources staff at Nashville’s Metro Public Health Department (MPHD) on Tuesday recommended that the department reprimand a high-ranking employee for offending Stephanie Kang, who directs the MPHD’s Bureau of Racial and Health Equity.
That employee, Brian Todd, serves as the director of communications for MPHD, according to an MPHD fact-finding report.
Investigators suggested that staff reprimand Todd — even though Kang provoked Todd by making an issue out of his race and gender, according to the report.
Todd is a white male.
The Tennessee Star obtained the report and other documents through an open records request.
“Having an explanation for why he reacted to Dr. Kang’s judgment of him based upon his race and gender only goes so far,” according to the report.
“Mr. Todd’s explosive reaction was unprofessional at best, intimidating, and frightening at worst.”
MPHD staff earlier this month apologized for Kang emailing department employees and calling the Kyle Rittenhouse verdict “an injustice.”
Todd, according to a November 30 email to MPHD Director Gill Wright, said Kang came to his office to discuss that email — which she sent without routing through Todd’s office, as protocol required.
“During the conversation she told me that she had received emails from people in the department who were happy to see the email,” Todd wrote to the MPHD director.
“She showed me a sheet of paper with email comments and wanted to know how future emails would be written because there will be more instances of this occurring. She appeared to want to prove that the email was warranted.”
Todd said he told Kang that it’s the MPHD’s job to focus on public issues and that her “email did nothing to support addressing those challenges.”
“I asked her how many people reached out to her with concerns prior to her drafting the email. Since I don’t know the members of her team, I asked if it was anyone on her team or if there were others. She said others besides those on her team,” Todd wrote in his email to Wright.
“I asked her if she could have one or more of them come and talk to me so that I could better understand. She said they would understandably not want to bring their concerns to a white man in power. I immediately ended the conversation, let her know that was a racial and sexist comment and it was unacceptable. I came to your office, very upset, and feeling threatened to let you know I was done with the conversation and left.”
Kang, in a written statement to HR, said Todd then stood up, screamed at her, and flung a leather folder onto his desk.
“When the folder hit the table, it made a very loud noise that made my body jump, but I couldn’t voluntarily move. My eyes were very wide and my hands gripped the chair very hard as my heart beat very fast. I leaned back when he got closer to me and stood over me and continued to yell. He screamed loudly “That’s it, this conversation is over, get out of my office!” according to Kang’s account.
“He then stormed towards me, his face very red, hands still raised, standing very closely to me screaming, ‘You are going to accuse me of being a white man in leadership? This is over, get out!’ and continued screaming this over and over. I remained sitting in shock feeling confused, intimidated and scared as he stood over me and watched him swing open the door of his office and walk out continuing to scream.”
Todd, in his email to Wright, said Kang judged him by his race and sex. He said Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 protects him from that type of treatment.
HR investigators said Todd “cannot demonstrate that his compensation, terms, conditions, or privilege of employment have suffered any damage because of Dr. Kang’s conduct.”
“Although Dr. Kang’s conduct did not violate Title VII, her statement, made as if it were a statement of fact — that employees may not be willing to speak to Mr. Todd because of his race and gender — was inappropriate, presumptuous, and rude, and unbecoming of an employee of MPHD and the Metropolitan Government,” according to the report.
Todd has no prior corrective or disciplinary actions in his personnel folder, according to the fact-finding report.
The report also recommended Kang receive some type of professional coaching.
Read Kang’s full complaint:
Read Todd’s full statement:
Read the Human Resources’ report:
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Chris Butler is an investigative journalist at The Tennessee Star. Follow Chris on Facebook. Email tips to [email protected]
Photo “Stephanie Kang” by Stephanie Kang. Background Photo “Metro Nashville Public Health Department” by Metro Nashville Public Health Department.