Female workers allege harassment at Kansas Highway Patrol

Six women sued top officials of the Kansas Highway Patrol, alleging they discriminated against female employees and created a hostile work environment.

The former and current employees contend in a federal lawsuit filed Friday that the agency violated federal anti-discrimination law, the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment, and their First Amendment speech rights, the Topeka Capital-Journal reported.

The Highway Patrol did not immediately return a message Monday seeking comment.

Among the plaintiffs is the former top human resources officer at the agency, Susan Pfannenstiel, who alleges she experienced inappropriate behavior herself and also suffered retribution for helping other women report their allegations.

The women’s lawsuit comes on the heels of a lawsuit filed last month by Scott Harrington and Josh Kellerman who allege their own dismissal was retaliation for attempting to help women report the behavior of top officials, including Superintendent Col. Herman Jones.

An independent investigation last year into complaints of sexual harassment against Jones found them to be unsubstantiated. But the lawsuit alleges that the investigation was improperly handled.

Jones, formerly the Shawnee County sheriff, was appointed by Gov. Laura Kelly in 2019. Kelly has called Jones the “right man for the job” and said at the time that the investigation affirmed her belief.