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Labor commisioner resigns
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Governor Bill Haslam announced Monday that embattled Commissioner of Labor and Workforce Development Karla Davis has resigned her post “due to family reasons.”Burns Phillips, a managing director in the Tennessee Department of Finance and Administration, has been named acting commissioner.A release from Haslam’s office praised Davis for enacting several key programs during her tenure.“Over the past two years, the department has implemented several key initiatives, including a comprehensive online jobs database to better connect job seekers to Tennessee employers and is playing a vital role in our effort to update Tennessee's worker's compensation laws,” the governor said. “I am grateful to Karla for her service and wish her the best.”Alisa Malone, the agency’s deputy commissioner, resigned as well, though no reason for leaving was given in her letter of resignation.Davis, who had served as commissioner of labor since Haslam took office, was named in a lawsuit filed late last year claiming she discriminated against white employees.The lawsuit claims that Davis forced out or fired dozens of longtime “Caucasian” employees and “virtually all of their replacements were of African American descent.”The suit further claims that, “In many cases the replacements did not have qualifications, including knowledge and experience equal to the persons they replaced but were compensated at a higher level.”She was further named in several other suits involving workers compensation and the constitutionality of benefit hearings, as well as one with an employee of 9 and one-half years with cancer who claimed he was fired without cause six months before he would have been eligible for retirement health insurance.Davis also came under fire last year for the department’s apparent inability to process claims in the 21-day period required by the federal government.