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McPhersonSentinel - McPherson, KS
  • McPherson denies fault in officer lawsuit

  • The city of McPherson Monday denied any wrongdoing in an employment lawsuit filed against it and its officials last week.
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  • The city of McPherson Monday denied any wrongdoing in an employment lawsuit filed against it and its officials last week.
    Matthew Michaels, 34, a former McPherson patrol officer, filed a lawsuit claiming eight counts of wrongdoing related to his employment and ultimate firing from the department.
    McPherson Mayor Tom Brown read a written statement at the McPherson City Commission meeting Monday regarding the case.
    The statement said the allegations were initially made in fall last year and were determined to be without factual or legal merit, Brown said in the statement.
    “On behalf of the city, McPherson Police Department and all those involved, I want to categorically deny the claims made by Mr. Michaels and his counsel and assure the citizens of McPherson that the suit will be vigorously defended.”
    Michaels was employed with the city between October 2003 and July 16. Michaels alleges in the lawsuit his rights to due process were denied, his rights under the Family Medical Leave Act were violated and his rights under the Americans with Disabilities Act were violated. Michaels has dyslexia.
    The lawsuit alleges members of the city staff defamed Michaels, and members of the staff were involved in a civil conspiracy against Michaels.
    Michaels additionally claims the city denied Michaels vacation pay when he was fired from the police department. He claims he was denied benefits when fired, and the city interfered with Michaels' future opportunities to earn an income.
    Chief Robert McClarty, Assistant Chief Mike Terry, a John Doe and the city’s attorney Jeff Houston also were named as defendants in the case.
    The suit is covered under the city’s insurance, and counsel from that company will represent the city.
    Michaels is being represented by the Ayesh Law Offices of Wichita. That offices said it has a policy against issuing comment on ongoing cases.
    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.
    The policy in question had been in place for several decades, the written statement said.
    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.
    The city said in its official statement it would make no more press statements in regards to the case.
    “ …we must defend the suit in courts and not in press releases and will therefore not be issuing any further comment,” the statement said.
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