St. Louis Record

Tuesday, April 7, 2020

Appeals court upholds circuit court decision in age discrimination case against Kansas City Public School district


By Chandra Lye | Dec 23, 2018

General court 4

KANSAS CITY — A Missouri appeals court upheld a lower court’s ruling in a human rights complaint against the Kansas City Public School district.

Former patrol officers Danny Holmes and Paul White sued the district claiming they were discriminated against because of their age. A jury found in favor of the plaintiffs and KCPS appealed.

“We find the grounds specified in KCPS’s motion for directed verdict significantly different

than those argued on appeal,” the court document stated.

According to the court decision, the school district argued there was insufficient evidence in the circuit court proceedings, but changed their argument on appeal.

“On appeal, KCPS asserts the following grounds for Plaintiffs’ alleged failure to make submissible claims of retaliation: (1) most of the alleged retaliatory acts occurred before Plaintiffs filed their complaints of discrimination, and (2) for the remaining alleged retaliatory acts, there was insufficient evidence of adverse employment action taken as a result of protected activity," the appeals decision stated.

Judge Anthony Rex Gabbert noted in the appeal court’s decision that there had been enough evidence for a jury.

“Further, the circuit court did not err in denying KCPS’s motion for new trial based on instructional error; substantial evidence supported the instructions given the jury,” Judge Gabbert wrote. 

Holmes and White argued they began to notice problems in 2013 with Sergeant Kevin LeBranche’s behavior. 

“White believe LeBrache was singling him out daily and unjustifiably scrutinizing White’s log sheets, while not subjecting others to such scrutiny,” the court decision stated. 

White took his concerns to Major Harris, the security director, who reassured him that he would not lose his job. 

The following year, however, White was given a low teamwork rating, which was linked to his complaint to Major Harris, according to court documents. 

Holmes had similar complaints and filed an official complaint with KCPS.

White had been hired by the district in 1996 when he was 50 years old while Holmes was hired in 2013. He was 46 years old at the time. Both men worked the midnight patrol shift. 

The appeals court decision was issued on Dec. 1, 2018.

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Missouri Court of Appeals Western District