The Kansas City Council on Thursday agreed to settle the seventh of eight discrimination lawsuits related to a 2011 reorganization of the city prosecutor’s office.
The latest settlement was for $500,000 with former assistant city prosecutor Cynthia Holmes and brings the total taxpayer outlay to nearly $2 million for the seven lawsuits. One remaining case is set for trial in September.
The council on Thursday also agreed to a $44,000 settlement to resolve a discrimination complaint from parks department employee Mark Bowland.
The eight related lawsuits stem from a decision to convert the Kansas City municipal prosecutor’s office from 16 part-time prosecutors to eight full-time prosecutors. City officials say the move helped make the department more professional and efficient as Municipal Court switched to a computerized, paperless system.
But eight attorneys who had worked for years as part-time prosecutors filed lawsuits. They had all applied for the new full-time jobs but were not selected. They alleged age, gender and/or race discrimination because several younger, less experienced lawyers were hired.
Holmes was a part-time assistant city prosecutor for more than 20 years. The Law Department recommended settling her lawsuit for $500,000, saying a jury might have found the city to have considered her age as a factor in its hiring decision, based on the age of the women selected, which would be a violation of the Missouri Human Rights Act.
Bowland has been employed by the parks department for more than 19 years, was promoted several times and received good evaluations. According to a fact sheet explaining the settlement, Bowland claimed discrimination after a new deputy director was hired and he was demoted.
Bowland, who is African-American, has been appointed to a new parks position at no loss of pay. But the Law Department recommended settling because a jury could believe he was subjected to closer scrutiny of his job performance based on his race.