The Buzz

Union calls for head of Missouri Veterans Commission to resign

The Missouri Capitol
The Missouri Capitol

The union representing state employees in Missouri is calling for the resignation of the executive director of the state’s Veterans Commission after jurors last month awarded nearly $3 million in damages to a former employee.

Larry Kay was put on administrative leave from his post leading the Missouri Veterans Commission late last month after a Cole County jury sided with former employee Pat Rowe Kerr, who claimed discrimination and harassment over her 2009 dismissal.

Three weeks later, the commission overseeing the agency voted 7-1 to reinstate him to his job.

American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees Council 61 President Danny Homan called the decision to reinstate Kay “a slap on the wrist for firing an employee on the basis of gender and age.”

“Discrimination or harassment in any form is rightfully prohibited by state employees, as outlined in their Code of Conduct,” Homan said in a prepared statement, “but is apparently tolerable when displayed by management.”

Kerr, who had been senior adviser for veteran outreach, told the jury she was dismissed because Kay has a problem with older, successful women. Kay and the commission said her dismissal was due to budget cuts.

Jurors awarded Kerr $1.3 million in actual damages and nearly $1.6 million in punitive damages.

Following the verdict, Democratic state Sen. Scott Sifton of St. Louis County called on Kay to resign. He is a member of commission that reinstated Kay and was the lone vote against.

Neither Kay nor a spokesman for the Veterans Commission immediately responded to a request for comment.