KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) — The Kansas City’s City Council has agreed to pay $750,000 to settle a discrimination complaint from a former water department manager.
The council agreed to the settlement with Mable Ramey-Moore on Thursday. She claimed she was discriminated against when she was laid off in May 2013 from the water department.
The city has paid nearly $3.4 million to settle discrimination claims from workers since July 2013, the Kansas City Star reported. The first discrimination lawsuit, which was filed by former assistant city prosecutors who had been laid off, was settled for almost $2 million.
Councilwoman Jan Marcason, who chairs the finance committee, said the series of lawsuits is troubling. She said a new human resources committee has been formed to evaluate every termination.
“We understand it’s a problem,” she said. “We’re trying to deal with it as systematically as we can.”
Ramey-Moore, who is 61 years old and black, worked for the city for 17 years. She was laid off after a reorganization of the water department and layoffs in other city departments. She had received positive evaluations throughout her career.
The city’s legal department recommended the settlement “because a jury could believe race, age, and/or gender was a contributing factor to her dismissal, in light of (her) past evaluations but subsequent transfer to a department experiencing reductions in force.” The department said the city would be responsible for covering significant back pay, punitive damages and attorney fees if it lost the trial.
Ramey-Moore served as an assistant to the director in water services from 1995 to 2012, until she was reassigned as an assistant to the director for business and support in the Public Works Department. After a year she was laid off due to a lack of relevant work for the position, the city said in the settlement. She was the only high-level employee transferred from a department funded by customer fees to a general fund department that’s subject to layoffs, according to the city.
“She was a very long-term employee,” said Ramey-Moore’s attorney, Eric Smith. “She’s now almost 62 years old and has not been able to find re-employment. It’s basically a career-ending decision that they fired her. Her lost wages and benefits if she had been able to work through retirement age were much higher than this. It’s a compromise result.”
The $750,000 settlement will come from the water department’s fund.
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