Archive for Monday, October 24, 2005

Police sergeant files civil suit against Basehor

Former interim police chief alleges age discrimination

October 24, 2005

A Basehor police officer, who was passed over for promotion a year ago, has filed a federal age-discrimination lawsuit against the city of Basehor.

Sgt. Martin Cigich, a 19-year police department veteran and a former interim police chief, filed the complaint last week in U.S. District Court in Kansas City, Kan. The complaint alleges the city "illegally failed to hire (Cigich) on the basis of his age by denying him a promotion to police chief."

Cigich, 55, served as interim police chief following the retirement of longtime police chief Vince Weston in April 2004. Cigich, along with approximately 30 other candidates, applied for the permanent position during a search for Weston's replacement.

The current police chief, Terry Horner, 43, was hired by unanimous vote of the city council in August 2004.

When reached by a reporter just before his shift began Monday afternoon, Cigich referred all questions to his attorney, Stephen Thornberry of Kansas City, Mo. Thornberry, who has handled numerous cases involving age discrimination, could not be reached for comment Monday.

Cigich's complaint maintains that he "satisfactorily met the legitimate job expectations" for the police chief position, but the city "recruited and hired a younger, less qualified individual outside of the existing police department staff."

The complaint also indicates "a management employee of (the city) made a derogatory age-biased comment regarding seeking a young individual for the available position."

The city has 20 days to respond to the complaint.

Basehor city attorney John Thompson objected to the allegation that the city discriminated against Cigich. He also said the city acted within the law by hiring Horner.

"The city denies there was any form of age discrimination, or any other kind of discrimination, in hiring Terry Horner," Thompson said. "All applicants were evaluated based on their qualifications."

According to the Kansas Human Rights Commission, this isn't the first time Cigich has lodged a complaint against the city's employment practices. He had previously filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, which investigated the case and issued a "no probable cause" finding.

The human rights commission reviewed the EEOC's findings and "found it to be sufficient," according to a document dated Oct. 20.

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