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2 Overland Park Police women officers suing department for discrimination

Officers claim discrimination of race, age and gender
overland park police
Posted at 2:28 PM, Apr 08, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-08 15:29:40-04

KANSAS CITY, Mo. — Two women officers in the Overland Park Police Department have filed a lawsuit against the department alleging they were discriminated against when they were passed up for promotions.

Police Capt. Kathleen Morgan and Sgt. Tirsa Otero filed the lawsuit in February in Johnson County, Kansas, District Court.

Morgan, 57, alleges she was the victim of age and gender discrimination, and retaliation, when she was passed up for a promotion to Major.

Otero, 52, alleges she was the victim of age, gender, race and national origin discrimination, in addition to retaliation, when she was passed up for a promotion to Captain.

In the suit, Morgan alleges that despite working as an officer for over 25 years and police captain for over eight years, she was still not offered a promotion to become a police major.

READ THE LAWSUIT

After requesting feedback from Chief Frank Donchez on why she wasn't offered the promotion, Morgan alleges she was told the department "wants someone who's going to be here for a while" and that successful applicants "gotta have potential."

Following a review by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, Morgan was granted a promotion to police major on a three month "trial period" along with a less qualified male employee. According to Morgan, the department had not previously used a "trial period" method when promoting employees.

Similarly, Otero alleges the department promoted less qualified male employees to police captain despite her having 19 years of experience as an officer and eight as a police sergeant.

According to the lawsuit, this happened twice in 2020 - once in July and then again in November. Otero claims she was passed up due to both her age and gender.

Otero also is a woman of color and of Puerto Rican descent.

Otero expressed her concerns to Donchez about wrongful and discriminatory treatment. Despite raising her concerns, the department allegedly promoted a younger, less-qualified employee. Otero alleges in the lawsuit that the department retaliated against her in doing so.

Both Morgan and Otero are seeking damages and promotions - Morgan is seeking a promotion to police major and Otero to police captain.

41 Action News reached out to the Overland Park Police Department who said it could not comment on the lawsuit at the moment.

The case was transferred to the U.S. District Court, Kansas District, last month.