A lawsuit in federal district court naming the City of Gardner as defendant and seeking compensatory and punitive damages was filed last week.
The suit identifies the plaintiffs, a minor, and her father, only with initials. The lawsuit alleges sex discrimination, Fourteenth Amendment violations, and denial of due process by failing to respond to or prevent discrimination and harassment.
The minor was an employee with the city’s park department.
According to the suit, about July 15, 2018 the plaintiff reported sexual assaults and harassment to the Gardner Police Department.
The GPD detective then relayed allegations of sexual harassment and assault to the city, and the girl was placed on administrative leave.
The girl, and father, requested information regarding disciplinary action taken against her supervisor, but the city refused to provide information.
A letter from the EEOC regarding the plaintiff’s complaint, grants the minor the right to file a civil suit.
According to the suit, the plaintiff believed that Gardner officials had previous knowledge that the supervisor had sexually assaulted and/or harassed other girls, prior to the rape.
The suit also alleges the supervisor and another city supervisor for the baseball fields would regularly engage in inappropriate discussions of a sexual nature.
Plaintiff’s suit says the minor was “sexually harassed and assaulted, at least in part, because the City of Gardner, Kansas, failed to take appropriate actions and failed to abide by appropriate policies, to ensure that (plaintiff) and others were safe from sexual abuse and sexual harassment.”
According to the suit, on at least four separate occasions in May and June 2018, the minor was sexually assaulted at isolated city-owned locations. The girl reported that although she protested she did not “want this,” she was raped on top of her car June 28, 2018.
The plaintiff also alleges other female employees were harassed by the same supervisor, and that the city had knowledge of his behavior prior to the June assault.
The suit states that during the course of the plaintiff’s employment, the city’s representatives, while acting within the course and scope of their employment, engaged in a pattern and practice of intentional discrimination and harassment based on the plaintiff’s female sex.
“Defendant’s actions were outrageous and showed an evil motive or reckless indifference or conscious disregard for the rights of Plaintiff and others,” according to the suit.
“The above referenced perpetrators were agents, servants and employees of Defendant (city) and were at all times acting within the course and scope of their employment, and/or their actions were expressly authorized by Defendant.”
Gardner officials declined comment.
“The City of Gardner is unable to comment on the litigation at this time as the subject matter involves allegations of criminal misconduct involving a minor and also involves confidential employment matters,” said Daneeka Marshall-Oquendo, Gardner public information officer.