Former Zoo employee files lawsuit, says CEO called women ‘hens’

Published: Jan. 9, 2018 at 11:03 AM CST|Updated: Jan. 9, 2018 at 10:11 PM CST
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(Source: WMC Action News 5)
(Source: WMC Action News 5)

MEMPHIS, TN (WMC) - It might not be unusual at a zoo to talk about a cat fight or even hens.

But this complaint filed by a former employee claims the zoo CEO wasn't talking about animals when he used those words.

"When you look at the complaint the things you see, there does appear to be some animosity between both parties," said attorney Claiborne Ferguson.

Ferguson, who is not involved in the gender discrimination lawsuit filed by former Memphis Zoo employee Dr. Kimberly Terrell, said these kinds of lawsuits can be hard to prove.

Terrell even tweeted about her lawsuit filed in federal court last month. The tweet featured a photo of Memphis Zoo CEO Chuck Brady the man she says discriminated and retaliated against her.

A conservation biologist, Terrell was hired by the Zoo in August 2015 as Director of Research and Conservation.

In the complaint, Terrell said she became concerned about how Brady treated her in comparison to men who worked at the zoo.

Terrell claims Brady said she was emotional, something she said he denied initially.

"We know what emotional means," Terrell said. 'I'm female and you don't like dealing with an uppity woman."

Terrell said Brady referred to women working in one office at the zoo as "hens."

She also claims Brady said, "I see you're in a catfight."  Then later said, "Catfight isn't a gender thing because cats can be male or female."

"That language and those words are in the complaint to show the intent of the managers to discriminate against her," Ferguson said.

In 2017 according to the lawsuit, Terrell frequently criticized Brady and threatened lawsuits.

Terrell was fired from the zoo almost two months ago. She is asking for her job back and back pay.

The Memphis Zoo is not commenting. Attorneys for the zoo would not comment but said they would be filing a complaint.

The attorney for Kimberly Terrell also did not return our calls. We contacted Terrell and Chuck Brady but did not hear back from them.

Copyright 2018 WMC Action News 5. All rights reserved.