Visit KC paid $250,000 to settle discrimination claims brought in a lawsuit by former human resources manager Janette Barron.
Barron, who claimed in a lawsuit that she was fired last year after asking for an investigation into allegations of harassing and bullying behavior by Ronnie Burt, the chief executive and president of Visit KC, will receive $137,500. Barron’s lawyer, Lauren Allen, was paid $112,500 in attorney’s fees.
Visit KC and Burt denied wrongdoing, according to the settlement agreement, which was obtained by The Star through a Missouri Sunshine Law request
Barron’s lawsuit became one point of contention that imperiled Burt’s future with the agency that promotes the Kansas City region’s tourism and convention business.
In December, Burt wrote a lengthy letter to board members saying that three Visit KC employees were undermining his authority, both because of Barron’s lawsuit and what Burt said was disagreements with his management style.
Visit KC board correspondence obtained by The Star in December indicated that employees had brought formal complaints against Burt.
Burt on Jan. 11 announced his resignation from Visit KC, effective on Jan. 31. Burt’s resignation letter said he made the decision “with mixed emotion” but said that consultations with his family, industry colleagues and mentors helped him determine that resigning “is the best thing for me to do.”
“Kansas City has grown close to my heart, because of the great people and team I built,” Burt’s resignation letter to Visit KC board chair CiCi Rojas reads. “As a result I submit my resignation with confidence that the organization is better than I found it and will be left in a better place with a stronger sales program, a stronger marketing strategy and brand integration platform as well as a stronger balance sheet.”
Burt had been with the agency since 2014.
Visit KC plans to name an interim chief executive soon as it carries out a search for a permanent replacement.