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2 women sue metro apartment complex company

Federal lawsuits claim discrimination, retaliation
Posted at 7:11 PM, May 07, 2019
and last updated 2019-05-08 08:20:30-04

OVERLAND PARK, Kan. — Two women claim the owners of some metro apartment complexes have made hostile comments to them about race, their Christian religion, sex and disability and also retaliated against them.

Tanya Teegarden and Elsa Abraham both worked for Nevin and Vijay Dewar and their real estate company Gold Crown Management.

Missouri records show Gold Crown Management L.L.C. as an active company with Nevin Dewar as the registered agent.

Teegarden has filed a federal lawsuit in Missouri.

Abraham has filed a federal lawsuit in Kansas.

Both women are claiming discrimination and retaliation by Gold Crown Management.

"They called me bi-polar, crazy, psycho, the 'b' word, they told me to get the hell out. I got sent home on numerous occasions if I tried to bring up a situation about payroll issues or someone's apartment not being taken care of," Teegarden said.

As the 41 Action News investigators first reported last November and again Tuesday, multiple tenants and a former maintenance worker at the Dewars' 79 Metcalf Apartments in Overland Park have complained about issues like mold, bugs, no heat, no air conditioning and water leaks.

Teegarden says she's worked in property management since she was 17.

She says the Dewars, through their companies, have owned apartment complexes in Gladstone, KCK, Olathe and Overland Park.

"I have never experienced properties in this type of horrible condition where the properties had no upkeep at all. Everything was falling apart. The residents were treated horribly. If they complained too much to the city, they were being evicted or they were being screamed at or they were even told they were trespassing at the office where they couldn't even come get their mail or a mail key. I have witnessed people that have worked there on the property that are unlicensed, unskilled and un-labored. I've seen people work there and do a lot of work who never got paid," Teegarden said.

Teegarden's potential witness list includes five of the Dewars' former employees, including Abraham, as well as a former Overland Park city inspector.

"Vijay and Nevin have a pattern of being hostile toward employees, residents, contractors, city officials, it doesn't matter who you were. I felt compelled to stay with them as long as I did because I felt like I was the advocate for all of these people in such vulnerable situations," Teegarden said.

In a written statement from Gold Crown Management's attorney Steve Mirikian he says Teegarden and Abraham are not credible.

Mirikian added the two women have a history of making "false reports and allegations pertaining to my client."

He also specifically wrote Teegarden has "substantial animus" and "emotional instability".

And Mirikian believes the two women have presented their claims "to try to coerce my client to compensate them."

However, Abraham sent the 41 Action News Investigators a copy of a letter from Mirikian dated March 11 offering a $500 settlement to her.

She declined.

Abraham, an immigrant from east Africa, claims she worked 18 months, 7 days-a-week as a rental property manager for one of the Dewars' properties.

She says when they moved her to another property and had her live at that property in an apartment, the Dewars' charged her more money for it.

When she complained, she claims they evicted her and gave her three days notice to move out, even though the rent money had already been taken out of her paycheck.

"What they do is they hire people that they have some kind of weak points in their life for something. You're suffering with something so they take advantage of you," Abraham said. "I want them to learn they can not get away with abusing people."

Additionally, Abraham also provided the 41 Action News Investigators a receipt for $306 from the U.S. Department of Labor, Wage and Hour Division for a ruling in her favor against Gold Crown Management.

Both women, after getting approval from the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, filed their federal lawsuits.

Both women are also representing themselves.

Mirikian has filed a summary judgment motion to get Teegarden's suit thrown out of court.

That motion is pending.