21 Metro Councilmembers call for firing of Nashville health director Dr. Michael Caldwell

Letter released publicly minutes ahead of a Board of Health meeting to discuss Dr. Michael Caldwell’s contract

By: - December 10, 2020 4:56 pm
Metro Nashville Health Department and Lentz Clinic (Photo: Metro Health, Facebook)

Metro Nashville Health Department and Lentz Clinic (Photo: Metro Health, Facebook)

Metro Councilmembers are formally asking the Board of Health to fire Nashville’s health director Dr. Michael Caldwell a day after a Human Resources investigation substantiated allegations of sexism against him.

The letter was released publicly shortly before the Board of Health convenes at 4 p.m. on Thursday to discuss the investigation.

“Our experience since then, unfortunately, aligns with the findings of a recent Metro Human Resources investigation confirming Dr. Caldwell’s record of sexism, arrogance and a temperament generally unsuited for such a critical public role,” the letter said.

“The investigation details his attempt to fire a pregnant employee and blame her concern over Dr. Caldwell’s absence from his post on her pregnancy. According to recent reporting on the investigation, he has regularly confronted female employees and has created a culture of abuse, intimidation and fear in our Metro Public Health Department.”

The letter said Dr. Caldwell has been “alternately combative and non-responsive in weekly calls with Councilmembers” and says the health director has failed to provide Councilmembers with information they requested in order to be able to address the COVID-19 epidemic with constituents.

“The upcoming vaccination effort must be led by a trustworthy public health director who develops a comprehensive strategy to reach all communities, motivates employees who are exhausted and demoralized, provides clear information and direction built on scientific facts, and engenders public trust at a level heretofore unseen in our pandemic response,” the letter said. “Clearly, Dr. Caldwell is not that leader.”

The letter is signed by 21 members of the Metro Council.

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Anita Wadhwani
Anita Wadhwani

Anita Wadhwani is a senior reporter for the Tennessee Lookout. The Tennessee AP Broadcasters and Media (TAPME) named her Journalist of the Year in 2019 as well as giving her the Malcolm Law Award for Investigative Journalism. Wadhwani is formerly an investigative reporter with The Tennessean who focused on the impact of public policies on the people and places across Tennessee. She is a graduate of Columbia University in New York and the University of California at Berkeley School of Journalism. Wadhwani lives in Nashville with her partner and two children.