KANSAS CITY, Mo. (WDAF) — Two Black female police officers are suing the Kansas City Police Department, alleging they were subjected to discrimination, retaliation and a hostile work environment.
Officers Rashawnda Williams and Alexis Bush-Bailey filed separate lawsuits against the Kansas City Board of Police Commissioners, which oversees the department. The women argue the board is responsible for KCPD employees’ actions.
FOX4 reached out to the Kansas City Police Department for comment on the allegations. KCPD spokesman Sgt. Jacob Becchina said the department does not comment on pending litigation “to ensure fairness for all sides involved.”
The women’s lawsuits are the latest allegations against the department, including several from current and former employees. Just last month, a Black KCPD sergeant filed a lawsuit alleging he was racially profiled in a traffic stop.
Allegations of sexist comments
In her lawsuit, Williams said her male colleagues made sexist and racist comments in her presence while her supervisor often participated in the conversation and laughed along.
Williams, who joined the department in 2010 and was assigned to the Police Athletic League in 2015, said there was conflict and discontent within the unit.
Williams said when she reported her frustration to a supervisor via a form, it was forwarded to the human resources department. HR and her supervisor found nothing wrong with the actions or comments Williams shared, according to the lawsuit.
Williams said when the time for her next annual review came, it was unlike years past.
“It had nothing to do with her performance as a police officer as it was riddled with mistruths, stories picked apart and badly sewn together and some flat-out lies,” the lawsuit states.
Williams said her evaluation made her seem like an “angry Black woman.” Regardless, she received a “satisfactory” overall.
A week later, Williams was presented with a performance improvement plan, which she said are not required for satisfactory evaluations. Williams reluctantly agreed.
In her lawsuit, Williams said she had applied to take the sergeant test, which she only needed a satisfactory evaluation to request. She alleges higher supervisors denied her request even though she met the requirement.
Several months later, Williams said her direct supervisor called a unit meeting, angry over a lack of mask-wearing and threatening to write everyone up.
Williams alleges the only people written up — and requested to be transferred out of PAL — were Williams and another Black female officer. Williams said the main reason she received for her removal was because she didn’t finish her performance improvement plan but said she had never been told it wasn’t acceptable.
Williams said she filed a grievance but was ultimately transferred. The officer said she also learned she could not work in any other youth services position because of what happened, the lawsuit states.
Unfair discipline claims
Bush-Bailey alleges in her lawsuit that she was targeted by her white female supervisor for her race, sex and age, leading to unfair discipline and a demotion.
Bush-Bailey said in the spring of 2021, she was one of only two officers assigned to the Drug Abuse Resistance Education (DARE) unit.
The lawsuit alleges their supervisor held a meeting to discuss plans for the unit but only invited the other officer, excluding Bush-Bailey, who said she was never informed of the plans. At a follow-up meeting, Bush-Bailey said her supervisor acted as if she was unprepared.
In another incident, Bush-Bailey said she was also disciplined for being out of uniform during a voluntary photo. The officer said she brought her uniform into work for a “women in law enforcement” photo but realized she forgot her collar brass.
When she told her supervisor, the woman lent her one. Bush-Bailey said in her lawsuit she was later called into a disciplinary meeting for being out of uniform. Months later, she was written up.
Bush-Bailey said her supervisor also required her to go through a shooting range plan in summer 2021 even though she passed her semiannual qualification, the lawsuit states.
After missing two community events, the officer also said her supervisor mandated she attend the next one, Bush-Bailey’s lawsuit said. She noted DARE officers are encouraged, but can’t be required, to attend community events because they are paid by a grant, not the department, according to the lawsuit.
Bush-Bailey alleges her supervisor didn’t hold other officers to this standard.
In November, she received a request for incident review after supervisors said she didn’t provide fixed days and times she would be teaching DARE classes. She didn’t start teaching until September instead of August and also taught outside of Kansas City limits after Bush-Bailey said a supervisor gave her permission.
Bush-Bailey said it was difficult to get fixed times for teaching ahead of time due to teacher schedule/school changes and COVID-19 restrictions, but she had provided anticipated schools and programs. Bush-Bailey argues her supervisor never requested fixed times.
In January 2022, Bush-Bailey said she was written up for not teaching enough classes, but her white male colleague who didn’t meet the requirement faced no consequences, the lawsuit alleges.
Bush-Bailey said she was pushed into leaving the DARE unit and taking a job as a patrol officer in March 2022.