Power & Light District
5:11 am
Thu March 6, 2014

New Lawsuit Alleges Racial Discrimination At Power & Light

The Power and Light District in downtown Kansas City, Mo., is at the center of new allegations claiming racial discrimination.
The Power and Light District in downtown Kansas City, Mo., is at the center of new allegations claiming racial discrimination.
Credit eschipul / Flickr--Creative Commons

The Cordish Companies, owner-operator of the popular Power and Light District in downtown Kansas City, is again facing allegations of discrimination. Cordish vehemently denies as “complete fabrication” the latest charges, which are part of wrongful dismissal lawsuit filed late Friday.

Glen Cusimano, a former club manager and security chief for Cordish, alleges in his lawsuit that the company routinely created disturbances as a ruse to eject black customers from clubs in the district. Specifically, Cusimano says that a Cordish official told him to hire a so-called “rabbit,” an inside troublemaker who ­provokes certain patrons. 

In a sworn affidavit that is part of the lawsuit, the alleged “rabbit” says he was paid cash and offered a free bar tab in exchange for the job.

In recent years, Cordish has been accused of discriminatory practices at the Power and Light District in Kansas City and at a similar development in Louisville, Ky.  The two separate lawsuits settled before trial and claims against Cordish were dismissed.

Cusimano seeks $10 million in actual and punitive damages, claiming he was fired in September 2013 as manager of the Mosaic Lounge for opposing discriminatory policies.

“They never came to me with a problem of my performance,” Cusimano said in an interview with KCUR. “They came to me with the problem, basically, without saying it, it had gotten too dark in Mosaic, and in the District, because of Mosaic… (that) what we were doing at the club seemed to be attracting the wrong crowd. So therefore, when they felt I didn’t necessarily agree ... it was time for me to go.”

Cordish declined an on-air interview but told KCUR in a written statement that it had no choice but to fire Cusimano after he hit a Mosaic patron who was in handcuffs and charged with assault by the Kansas City Police Department.

In that statement, Cordish attorney Bob Fowler wrote that “Mr. Cusimano’s accusations are complete fabrications and 100 percent false. “ He says the company “will vigorously defend Mr. Cusimano’s outrageous allegations and intends to file its own counterclaims against Mr. Cusimano.”

Fowler also indicated that Cusimano is not credible source based on his checkered past, which includes a federal fraud conviction for which he served prison time in 2006.

Cordish has 30 days to respond to the lawsuit, which was filed in Jackson County Circuit Court.

UPDATE  4:00 PM

Attorney for Glen Cusimano, Linda Dickens of Dickens Law LLC , says her office is preparing to file a separate, class action law suit against Cordish on behalf of others who claim to have been harmed or ejected because of the alleged pattern of targeting blacks.

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