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McPhersonSentinel - McPherson, KS
  • Former police officer files lawsuit against city

  • A former McPherson police officer filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit against the city of McPherson and McPherson city officials Wednesday in U.S. District Court.
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  • A former McPherson police officer filed a multi-million dollar lawsuit against the city of McPherson and McPherson city officials Wednesday in U.S. District Court.
    Matthew Michaels, 34, was employed as a patrol officer with the MPD from October 2003 to July 16, when he was fired from the police force.
    Michaels is alleging a variety of employment-related violations of his rights. The compliant lays out eight counts, which include the following.
    Count 1: The complaint alleges Michaels rights to due process were violated when he was fired.
    Count 2: Michaels alleges his supervisors did not allow him to take leave under the Family Medical Leave Act to attend a doctor’s appointment for his step-daughter in Kansas City. His step-daughter, 6, has a lifelong neurovascular disease, according to the complaint.
    Count 3: Michaels has dyslexia. The complaint alleges Michaels was not allowed to dictate his reports as an accommodation for his dyslexia in violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act.
    Count 4: The lawsuit alleges defamation, claiming McPherson Police Chief Robert McClarty, Assistant Chief Mike Terry and a John Doe, made false statements or misrepresentations concerning Michaels.
    Count 5: Michaels is alleging civil conspiracy in his lawsuit. The complaint says McClarty and Terry conspired to direct their subordinates to write reports or disciplinary actions that misrepresented Michaels.
    Count 6: The lawsuit claims Michaels’ firing has impeded his ability to earn wages in the future.
    Count 7: Michaels alleges the city interfered with his benefits under the Employee Retirement Income Security Act. He alleges he was terminated while taking an approved vacation and was denied payment for accrued vacation when he was fired.
    Count 8: The complaint claims the city violated the Kansas Wage Payment Act by not paying Michaels for his vacation days.
    Jeff Houston, the city’s attorney who also is named in the lawsuit, said the city is still processing all of the allegations, and it is unclear at this point the exact amount of damages for which Michaels is suing.
    The suit is covered under the city’s insurance, and the city will be represented by counsel from that company.
    Nick Gregory, McPherson city administrator, said the city is preparing a written statement concerning the case, and Mayor Tom Brown will present that statement during the regular city commission meeting on Monday. That meeting begins at 8:30 a.m. in the McPherson Municipal Center.
    Houston and McClarty said they did not wish to comment at this time, deferring to the written statement that will be released Monday.
    Houston said he anticipates the city will deny the allegations against it and its employees.
    Michaels is being represented by the Ayesh Law Offices of Wichita. That office was contacted for this story, but it did not wish to comment.
    Page 2 of 2 - A hearing has not yet been set in the case.
    In a separate lawsuit, Michaels sued the city claiming he was owed unpaid overtime for time he spent at shift meetings with the McPherson Police Department.
    The city came to a settlement with Michaels in that case and since has changed its overtime and scheduling policy.
    A stay has been granted in the overtime case. The city has not paid the settlement, pending the outcome of a related U.S. Supreme Court case.
    Contact Cristina Janney at cjanney@mcphersonsentinel.com or follow her on Twitter @macsentinel.com.
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