Woman Claiming Harassment By Ex-Kansas Official Pursues Discrimination Complaint

Dec 11, 2017

A discrimination complaint filed earlier this year by a Tennessee woman who claims a former Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services official sexually harassed her is still pending before the Kansas Human Rights Commission.

The complaint filed by Jennifer Gill in February charges that Equi-Venture Farms, a day and residential service provider for Kansans with developmental disabilities, violated state law by firing her after she reported the alleged harassment to her supervisor.

“From September 2016 to December 2016, I was subject to sexual harassment in the form of sexual comments, text messages and video,” Gill states in the complaint.

Read the complaint filed with the Kansas Human Rights Commission.

In a recent report published by the Topeka Capital-Journal, Gill said Brandt Haehn, a former KDADS commissioner of disability services, sent her graphic videos and offered her a management position at the agency in exchange for sex.

In the complaint, she claims that Equi-Venture fired her in “retaliation” for complaining about Haehn, who oversaw the agency’s licensing of service providers.

When KDADS Secretary Tim Keck learned of the allegations, he immediately suspended Haehn pending the outcome of a formal investigation.

The newspaper account indicated that Gill stopped cooperating with the investigation when an agency attorney asked her if she had encouraged Haehn.

Haehn returned to work but left the agency several months later to accept a position with Amerigroup, one of the three private insurance companies that administer KanCare, the state’s $3 billion Medicaid program.

Lt. Gov. Jeff Colyer, who is preparing to take over when the U.S. Senate confirms Republican Gov. Sam Brownback’s nomination to a State Department post, said there would be no tolerance of harassment in his administration but declined to say what, if any, policy changes he is considering.

“Believe me, this makes me very angry,” Colyer said. “We want a tone where everybody is respected and that harassment will not be tolerated.”

Ruth Glover, executive director of the human rights commission, said state law precludes her from commenting on Gill’s discrimination case other than to confirm it remains open.

If Gill, who moved to Tennessee in search of a job and a fresh start, cannot reach a settlement with Equi-Venture, the seven-member commission will decide the case.

Jim McLean is managing director of the Kansas News Service, a collaboration of KCUR, Kansas Public Radio, KMUW and High Plains Public Radio covering health, education and politics. You can reach him on Twitter @jmcleanks. Kansas News Service stories and photos may be republished at no cost with proper attribution and a link back to kcur.org.