Four male Kansas City police sergeants have filed a lawsuit alleging they lost out on a department K-9 job they wanted that a less-qualified female applicant received in an effort to bolster the department’s diversity.
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 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 that the men filed Thursday in Jackson County Circuit Court. The men contend that they suffered discrimination because of their sex.
The lawsuit names as defendants the Kansas City Board of Police Commissioners and Police Chief Darryl Forté.
David Kenner, secretary and attorney for the board, said Friday they could not comment on any pending litigation.
The lawsuit alleges the Police Department is 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.
Minority police officers have received a disproportionately high number of special assignments, according to the suit.
Forté is African-American, and the plaintiffs are white men. The woman who got the K-9 job is white.
The plaintiffs allege 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 contends. It alleges the female applicant’s disciplinary and demeanor record was significantly inferior to the other applicants.
The plaintiffs are seeking an unspecified amount in actual damages, punitive damages and attorney fees.