- Associated Press - Thursday, July 28, 2016

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. (AP) - The head of the Missouri Veterans Commission has been placed on paid leave after jurors awarded nearly $3 million in damages to a former employee who claimed discrimination and harassment over her dismissal.

The commission is offering no further details about executive director Larry Kay’s status, The Jefferson City News-Tribune reported (https://bit.ly/2aqGp9K ). Commission spokesman Daniel Bell described the situation Wednesday as “a personnel matter.” Bell said that Deputy Director Bryan Hunt is the acting executive director until further notice.

Last week, jurors awarded $1.3 million in actual damages and about $1.6 million in punitive damages to Pat Rowe Kerr, who was dismissed from her position as a senior adviser for veteran outreach in November 2009. She sued the agency in July 2011.

Kerr’s attorneys argued that she was dismissed because Kay has a problem with older, successful women. They also claimed that Kay showed favoritism to men and younger employees.

At the time, Kay and the commission had said her dismissal was due to budget cuts.

Last Friday, state Sen. Scott Sifton, a Democrat from Affton who is on the Veterans Commission, called for Kay to step down in the wake of the jury verdict.

“The person heading the Missouri Veterans Commission needs to be fair-minded and focused on the needs of veterans,” Sifton said. “I do not see how Larry Kay can continue to lead this important agency in light of the jury’s decision.”

Kay is paid $105,408 a year, according to information posted on the state’s Accountability Portal .


Information from: Jefferson City News Tribune, https://www.newstribune.com

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