KANSAS CITY, Kan. — A Unified Government of Wyandotte County and Kansas City, Kansas, employee is alleging discrimination and retaliation within his department.
Reginald Lindsey, who has worked for the Unified Government’s finance department since 2011 and is currently the budget director, filed a discrimination lawsuit last month.
The 49-year-old Black man said “beginning almost immediately” when he started working there, he was subjected to racial and age discrimination from his supervisors.
His lawsuit primarily points to the alleged actions of two UG employees — outgoing Chief Financial Officer Kathleen VonAchen and payroll director Ron Green — from 2016 to 2020.
Lindsey’s suit says Green frequently used the N-word at work and allegedly called Lindsey the racial slur in 2018. The lawsuit also alleges in 2019, when the Unified Government was a victim of wire fraud originating out of Africa, Green said, “That is what they do over there.”
In 2019, Lindsey said Green apologized for calling him the racial slur and asked Lindsey to keep it between them.
But after learning Lindsey told human resources about the incident, Lindsey said that VonAchen said he was making people look bad. The suit says Lindsey’s supervisors retaliated, denying him earnings and promotions after reporting the issue.
Lindsey also alleges VonAchen said in 2019 the Unified Government “had to build a grocery store downtown because black people did not want to shop at Mexican grocery stores.” According to the lawsuit, VonAchen also said she would walk down Minnesota Avenue because “there were only Mexicans on that street, so no one would hurt her.”
Gerald Gray II is representing Lindsey in the lawsuit. He said this situation in the UG is not unique.
“You know, dealing with racial hostilities in the workplace — I know it can get very frustrating being treated different from others,” Gray said. “And I know he had dealt with that for an extended period of time prior to taking legal action.”
Lindsey filed a discrimination claim with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2019 and received a notice of the right to sue in May 2022. He is seeking damages in excess of $75,000.
“Certain things are unlawful in the workplace and certainly certain types of treatment, racial animus and all of those things are not tolerated,” Gray said.
A spokesperson for the Unified Government had no comment on the allegations, citing pending litigation.
“Really not having a place to turn to given that some of these allegations and allegations from other come from very top officials in the Unified Government including top folks in human resources – which is where people typically turn to when they have these types of issues,” Gray said.
Lindsey’s lawsuit was filed just weeks before VonAchen announced her resignation from the Unified Government; her last day is set for Dec. 15.
VonAchen is one of three UG department leads to resign in the past month. Economic development director Katherine Carttar and director of development coordination and customer service success Rob Richardson also announced their departures last week; their last days are set for the first week of October.
Former County Administrator Doug Bach, who served in the role during the time of Lindsey’s allegations, also retired from the UG in January 2022. Cheryl Harrison-Lee is currently serving as interim county administrator while the Unified Government searches for a permanent replacement.
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