Two female Overland Park police officers sue department, saying they weren’t promoted due to race, gender and age

Overland Park police

Two long-time Overland Park police officers have sued the department, saying they were passed over for promotion because of their race and age. Their suit argues that younger, less experienced male colleagues got the jobs instead. File photo.

Two long-time police officers have filed suit against the Overland Park Police Department alleging age, gender and racial discrimination in job promotions.

The suit, which was recently moved to federal court, says the two women were repeatedly passed over for promotions in favor of younger, less experienced men.

Kathleen Morgan, 57, and Tirsa Otero, 52, were both over 40 during the years in question and have a combined 44 years on the force.

Morgan has been with the department for 25 years, with over eight years as a captain, and Otero, a sergeant for over eight years has been on the force for 19 years.

Both say they were qualified or exceeded qualifications to move up in rank. But, the suit says, when Morgan applied for police major, Chief Frank Donchez told her he wanted someone who would be staying longer with the force, a form of age discrimination, the suit alleges.

After she registered her concerns with Donchez and the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, she was offered a promotion on a three-month trial basis. But the suit says that move that had not been used for others.

Otero sought a promotion to captain but was passed over twice in 2020 in favor of two white men. Otero, who is of Puerto Rican descent, is a person of color and the suit alleges racial discrimination.

The suit says the women each suffered damages of more than $75,000, though no specific amount is requested for redress.

The city’s lawyer, Travis Hanson, declined comment for this article.