GRAIN VALLEY, Mo. — A second police officer in Grain Valley is claiming discrimination on the job.
In a lawsuit filed in Jackson County court this month, former Grain Valley officer Kevin Bellmyer says he was discriminated against for his age in the process of applying for a job internally.
He began working for the city of Grain Valley as an officer in March 2019 and was 50 years old at the time of the alleged discrimination.
Bellmyer filed a charge of discrimination with the Missouri Commission on Human Rights (MCHR) in June of last year. The filing claimed he was discriminated against based on age, experienced a hostile work environment, and was retaliated against by the department.
In January, MCHR issued Bellmyer a notice of right to sue the city of Grain Valley based on the evidence his lawyer, David Lunceford, presented.
In the newly filed lawsuit, Bellmyer says in December 2020 he heard through an announcement there was a student resource officer position opening at Grain Valley High School. Bellmyer expressed interest in the position and on Jan. 12 spent the day shadowing the current school resource officer to learn more about the position and what it entailed.
The same day Bellmyer said he heard from a sergeant within the department that Chief James Beale allegedly made comments to other supervising officers about Bellmyer’s age, saying, “we don’t need any gray hair in the school.”
On Jan. 15, 2021, Bellmyer formally interviewed for the SRO position with a panel of employees from the Grain Valley School District and three members of the Grain Valley Police Department.
Only one other applicant was interviewed for the SRO position. The applicant was also an officer with the Grain Valley Police Department. The applicant was significantly younger and in his mid-20s. Bellmyer’s lawsuit claims the fellow officer had no previous experience as an SRO and less overall experience as a law enforcement officer.
According to the suit, the interview panel recommended Bellmyer be hired for the SRO position at Grain Valley High School.
A few days later, Bellmyer said he learned he performed better than the other applicant and the panel recommended his promotion to the position. He was told the official announcement would be made on Jan. 19.
On that day a department-wide email went out saying that not Bellmyer but the other applicant was selected for the position.
The suit claims the Grain Valley School District was upset with the city’s decision to not hire Bellmyer and to go against its recommendation.
On April 15, Bellmyer filed a formal discrimination complaint with GVPD’s human resources department. The suit claims the city and department did not adequately investigate his complaints of discrimination. He requested to be placed into the SRO position, and the suit claims each day he was not was another instance of discrimination and retaliation.
The suit claims since he was not given the position based on their belief it was due to age that Bellmyer suffered a number of damages, including: past and future loss of wages and benefits, a detrimental job record, career damage and diminished career potential, and emotional distress and embarrassment.
It is unclear what amount of damages Bellmyer’s attorney is seeking in this case; however, they are asking the court include all legal fees.
FOX4 reached out to the city of Grain Valley who said in a statement:
The City of Grain Valley does not discuss personnel matters or pending litigation. Mr. Bellmyer is not currently employed with the city.— Kevin Murphy, City Administrator, City of Grain Valley, Missouri
FOX4 also reached out to Lunceford, the attorney for Bellmyer, but did not hear back at the time of this article.
The city of Grain Valley has until May 7 to file a formal response to the court. A conference hearing is scheduled in this suit for July 25.
Not the first lawsuit
This is the second lawsuit filed against Grain Valley involving its police department in just two months. A female sergeant with the agency also says she was discriminated against.
Sgt. Shannon Carr said her gender made her the target of rude comments and retaliation. In the suit, Carr and her attorney paint a picture of a woman trying to make her way in male dominated workforce.
She claims in the suit over the past two years her responsibilities were taken away from her and given to other male employees. The court filing says her duties in background investigation were given to a male sergeant and then a male officer.
In 2018, the documents claim Carr proposed a street crime unit with a focus on drug activity within the city. The idea was denied, but later the department’s Street Crime Unit was created without her and “multiple officers with less experience were chosen by the Patrol Captain” to be a part of the unit.
In October 2020, Carr claims the department falsely reprimanded her and accused her of being insubordinate about the way she processed a scene in September of the same year. The suit claims the Patrol Captain recommended she be reprimanded, and a document provided to her falsely questioned her emotional state.
On the same day in October, Carr said received a document dated September 29, 2020 that said she was placed on a performance improvement plan for alleged issues dating back to 2016. Part of the performance improvement plan required Carr to go through a psychological evaluation.
The documents say Carr went through the evaluation and the psychologist suggested she seek legal assistance for sex discrimination in the workplace.
In December 2020, the suit claims Carr interviewed for a detective position. She said during the interview she was asked by an outside agency interviewer if she would need more time to show up to scenes because she had to do her makeup and hair.
Carr said she was not offered the job, was not given feedback on the interview process, and was not on an eligibility list for a future position.
The suit says Carr originally filed a discrimination claim back in February 2021 and claims she was retaliated against for filing the charge. After the filing, she was placed on performance improvement plans and was required to attend a fitness of duty test not required for male employees.
She was then suspended and placed on administrative leave pending the fitness for duty test. Carr is back working on the force.