Archive for Thursday, November 10, 2005

City denies discrimination in hiring

Police officer alleges in lawsuit he wasn’t promoted because of his age

November 10, 2005

In a U.S. District Court filing, the city of Basehor today denied any wrongdoing in how it hired the current police chief.

Late last month, Sgt. Martin Cigich, a 19-year police department veteran and former interim police chief, filed a lawsuit in federal court in Kansas City, Kan., alleging he was not promoted to police chief because of his age.

Cigich, 55, served as interim police chief while the city searched for a permanent replacement for longtime chief Vince Weston, who retired.

Basehor City Council members authorized city attorney John Thompson to file the response during an executive session Monday night. Executive sessions are private meetings and a commonly used tool used by governing bodies to discuss matters of attorney client privilege with legal counsel, among other matters.

While careful not to divulge too much of what was said by his clients during the executive session, Thompson said the city acted within the law by hiring current Police Chief Terry Horner. He also said that council members were "surprised" when they learned Cigich had sued the city.

"There is no evidence that I have seen that the city used discrimination," Thompson said. "On behalf of the city I'm going to move forward and vigorously defend the city in this case."

He also said none of the council members asked that the lawsuit be settled out of court.

"That didn't come up," Thompson said.

Discussions between Thompson and Cigich's attorney, Stephen Thornberry, Kansas City, Mo., have yet to take place. Thompson said he expected some preliminary discussions to occur following last Thursday's filing of the city's response.

Cigich is referring all questions to his attorney, and Thornberry could not be reached for comment.

Of the many claims the city denied in the Cigich lawsuit, one that draws particular interest lies in a section in which the plaintiff purports that he "satisfactorily met the legitimate job expectations of the (city)," during his stint as interim police chief.

The city denied this claim, as well as many others, in its response.

Cigich was among 30 to 40 candidates to apply for the police chief's position. Horner, 43, was hired by unanimous council vote in August 2004.

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