Government & Politics

Was man fired by City of Olathe for belonging to motorcycle club?

An Olathe man has filed a lawsuit claiming he was unfairly fired by the city for belonging to a motorcycle club.

Larry Brown’s lawsuit was filed Wednesday in Johnson County District Court and seeks unspecified damages for his termination in October 2016. The lawsuit names as defendants the city, Mayor Michael Copeland, Police Chief Steven Menke, City Manager J. Michael Wilkes and then-chief information officer Shawn Whitcomb.

City officials said they had not yet seen the lawsuit and had no comment.

The complaint lays out the following allegations:

Brown was hired by the city of Olathe in September 2016 for a managerial position in the Information Technology department. To obtain that job, he successfully completed a background check and drug testing. Then, during a visit to the police department, he was told he would need to pass an additional police department background check, which Brown complied with.

Then, on Oct. 3, 2016, Brown was informed by his supervisor, Shawn Whitcomb, that although Whitcomb had no problems with his performance, his employment was terminated. Whitcomb explained that Brown had allegedly failed the police department’s additional screening, with an item of concern pertaining to the Overland Park Police Department.

According to the lawsuit, Brown visited Overland Park police to find out more about the situation. He was told by an officer that there was a notation on a “master name file” stating Brown was a “Full Patch Member of Brothers Word MC.”

The lawsuit said Brown has never received “any legitimate reason for his termination.”

“Mr. Brown alleges that he was terminated from his position with the City of Olathe not because of his failure to pass the additional background check but rather because he belonged to a motorcycle club,” the lawsuit says.

The plaintiff argues the firing violated his constitutionally protected rights of free speech, free association, due process and equal protection.

A Fresno, California Superior Court jury on Thursday, May 10, 2018 ordered Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. to pay $8 million to Jeannette Ortiz for wrongfully firing her in January 2015 from the restaurant she managed near Fresno State.