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Jury sides with KC police leaders in sex bias lawsuit over police K-9 job

A Jackson County jury ruled in favor of Kansas City Police Department leaders accused of sex bias in filling a department K-9 job. Kansas City Police Chief Darryl Forté was a defendant.
A Jackson County jury ruled in favor of Kansas City Police Department leaders accused of sex bias in filling a department K-9 job. Kansas City Police Chief Darryl Forté was a defendant.

A Jackson County jury on Monday ruled in favor of Kansas City Police Department leaders who had been accused of sex bias in filling a department K-9 job.

Four male Kansas City police sergeants had filed a lawsuit in 2015 saying they lost out on the job because it was given to a less-qualified female applicant in an effort to bolster the department’s diversity.

None of the plaintiffs prevailed in court. After a trial lasting about four days, the jury returned identical verdicts for each of the four plaintiffs, in each case ruling against them and siding with the defendants: the Kansas City Board of Police Commissioners and Police Chief Darryl Forté.

After the verdict, Forté said the applicant he chose for the job performed better in practical exercises than others.

“I’m extremely grateful for the rendered evidence-based verdict,” Forté said. “This verdict might send a message to the entitled-minded who can’t handle failure. The court shared my perspective. I’ll continue to share my thoughts about diversity as well as continue to do what’s in the best interest of the entire police department.”

The plaintiffs, Sergeants Matthew Taylor, Matthew Young, Jarrett Lanpher and Scott Simons, were among nine candidates for the job, which included supervisory duties. Such a move, among other benefits, would have allowed for additional overtime and the use of a take-home vehicle, the lawsuit said.

The four said that the sole female applicant did not know answers to many questions asked during an oral interview and performed poorly during a practical skills test, according to the lawsuit the men filed in Jackson County Circuit Court. The men contended that they suffered discrimination because of their sex.

Michael Miller, a Kansas City attorney representing the four men, could not be reached for comment Monday.

The lawsuit said the Police Department was seeking greater diversity. Since being appointed chief, Forté has said repeatedly that the department “must utilize recruitment, promotion and retention to encourage a workforce that reflects the characteristics of its community,” according to the lawsuit.

The suit also asserted that minority police officers have received a disproportionately high number of special assignments.

Forté is African-American, and the plaintiffs are white men. The woman who got the K-9 job is white.

The plaintiffs sai she attended only one training session with the K-9 unit while other applicants attended more.

The department’s hierarchy ignored the test results and recommendation of section supervisors, the lawsuit contended. It said the female applicant’s disciplinary and demeanor record was significantly inferior to the other applicants.

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