Kansas City Fire Department faces another race discrimination suit

The Kansas City Star

A federal lawsuit filed Tuesday alleges that African-American firefighters in Kansas City are discriminated against when seeking promotion to captain.

Travis Yeargans, a 23-year veteran of the department who left the department in 2014 after several unsuccessful tries for promotion, filed the suit Tuesday in federal court in Kansas City.

Yeargans alleges that he and other African-American members of the department were victims of a "pattern and practice of not promoting African-Americans to captain or to any position above driver because of race."

Last year, another African-American firefighter who made similar claims in another lawsuit, was awarded $356,694 in compensatory damages after a jury trial.

According to the new suit filed by Yeargans, while 13.5 percent of Kansas City firefighters are African-American, they comprise 7.8 percent of the "captain population."

Yeargans entered the captain's promotion process in 2012. He was ranked 32nd on the list candidates, but only the top 17 were promoted.

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Yeargans' suit alleges that he and other African-American candidates were "underscored" in testing and assessments.

The suit alleges that if not for the underscoring, Yeargans would have been among the top candidates.

He alleges that his constitutional rights of equal protection and due process were violated, and he seeks an unspecified amount for damages.

There is at least one other pending lawsuit alleging discrimination within the fire department. That case is set for a federal court trial in September.

Another suit filed in Jackson County Circuit Court with allegations similar to the one filed by Yeargans was dismissed in January.