Airport, ex-CEO settle dispute for $2M

Wigington

Robert Wigington has settled his employment discrimination lawsuit against the Metropolitan Nashville Airport Authority that he led as president and CEO until his termination in 2017.

The body that oversees the Nashville International Airport will pay Wigington $2,075,000 to settle the dispute, in which Wigington was represented by Sanford Heisler Sharp managing partner and former federal district court judge Kevin Sharp.

Wigington argued that his dismissal violated the federal Family Medical Leave Act and the Tennessee Disability Act because he was fired after his return from leave for liver surgery. An amended complaint alleged that MNAA leadership “released false and defamatory information to justify its decision.”

“Mr. Wigington is proud of the achievements and successes the Nashville International Airport experienced during his tenure as President & CEO,” Sharp said in a statement. “Under his leadership, the Airport Authority secured a $200 million bond issuance, broke ground on the $1.2 billion BNA Vision expansion program and negotiated over 20 new non-stop flights, including the much lauded route to London Heathrow. Mr. Wigington believes this settlement is a reflection and recognition of his numerous accomplishments. Having fully recovered from his liver transplant, he is happy to have this litigation behind him and is looking forward to continuing his work in the aviation industry.”

In announcing its decision to fire Wigington, the authority detailed various examples of mismanagement and a “culture of secrecy and concealment.”

Doug Kreulen, who succeeded Wigington as CEO, called the settlement a “business decision.”

"Resolving this dispute allows the commissioners and our staff to focus 100 percent of their energy on what's important to Middle Tennessee: building a first-class airport to meet the needs of our travelers both domestically and internationally,” he said.