Shawnee County OKs $48K settlement in discrimination lawsuit; Lawrence woman among plaintiffs

Wichita — Shawnee County commissioners agreed Thursday to pay a $48,000 settlement to two women who claimed they were wrongfully terminated from their jobs in the prosecutor’s office because of racial and gender discrimination.

Although the settlement releases the county, the litigation will be allowed to continue against the district attorney’s office, and a jury trial is expected to start Jan. 9 in federal court in Kansas City, Kan. That’s the same day outgoing Shawnee County District Attorney Chad Taylor’s successor will be sworn into office, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported.

Lisa Anne Moore, of Lawrence, and Krystal L. Boxum-Debolt, of Rancho Rio, New Mexico, filed the lawsuit in 2012. The two were victim-witness specialists in the district attorney’s office before they were terminated in 2010.

They contend in a court filing that Taylor had a propensity to use “insulting and intensely degrading language and sexual epithets” to describe women.

Taylor, who didn’t run for re-election in November, has called the allegations inaccurate. He claimed the women deserved to be terminated because their work emails about colleagues featured “derogatory and unprofessional comments” laced with profanity.

A memorandum from county counselor Jim Crowl to the commissioners said the county denies the claims of Boxum-Debolt and Moore “have any merit, (and) this settlement reflects the costs of the defense as well as the risk of an adverse judgment.”

The settlement is a “compromise of disputed claims,” Crowl wrote in the document.

The defense has sought a judge’s order to exclude any allegedly sexist statements or conduct by any employee of the district attorney’s office that weren’t done in the presence of Moore and Boxum-Debolt and were communicated to the plaintiffs secondhand. The judge hasn’t ruled on the defense motion to exclude that testimony.