- Associated Press - Tuesday, December 12, 2017

TOPEKA, Kan. (AP) - A company that helps to manage the Medicaid program in Kansas has fired an employee who was accused of sexual misconduct while working as a state social services administrator.

Amerigroup Kansas Inc. spokeswoman Olga Gallardo said Tuesday in an email that Brandt Haehn “was terminated.” She provided no other details about the firing or his employment.

For nearly two years until he left the agency in June, Haehn was the Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services commissioner overseeing in-home and community services for the disabled. The agency said Haehn left after earlier spending several weeks on unpaid leave over his alleged conduct toward a woman who formerly worked for a company providing services to the disabled.

The woman, Jennifer Gill, told The Topeka Capital-Journal that Haehn solicited sex from her and even offered her a job if she would comply. She said Haehn pursued her for four months starting in September 2016 with graphic messages, images and even a video of himself masturbating, which the newspaper said it reviewed.

In a complaint before the Kansas Human Rights Commission, Gill alleges that her employer, Equi-Venture Farms, based in Topeka, reprimanded her and then fired her last December for “having openly opposed” discriminatory acts prohibited by state law. The company’s executive director disputed those allegations, saying Gill was fired over performance issues.

News reports about Gill’s complaint and her allegations against Haehn prompted legislators and others to call on Amerigroup to fire Haehn. Others were upset that Haehn returned to work for several more weeks after his leave and before he was fired.

“Brandt Haehn was terminated from Amerigroup and is no longer employed with the company,” Gallardo said in her email.

A Topeka phone listing for Haehn has been disconnected, and it wasn’t clear whether he has an attorney. Gill’s complaint is against her former employer, not the state agency; complaints with the Human Rights Commission name employers, not individual supervisors or executives.

Gill told The Topeka Capital-Journal that she worked for Equi-Venture Farms in Newton and returned home to Tennessee after losing her house in Wichita. A phone listing for her in Savannah, Tennessee, has been disconnected, and she didn’t immediately reply to a voicemail left on a cellphone listed as hers.

Gill’s complaint to the Human Rights Commission identifies Haehn only by his state job, but Kansas Department for Aging and Disability Services Secretary Tim Keck confirmed in a statement that Haehn had been placed on administrative leave and left the agency. Gill filed her complaint Feb. 27.

In the complaint, she alleges that she told her supervisor at Equi-Venture about Haehn’s conduct “in or about” September 2016.

“However, no action was taken,” the complaint said.

Ben Swinnen, Equi-Venture’s executive director, disputed Gill’s account. He said Tuesday that she told him about Haehn’s conduct on Dec. 2 or Dec. 3, 2016, and he called Haehn to tell him to stop his behavior.

Swinnen also said that on Dec. 1, 2016, he and Gill agreed she would leave Equi-Venture over performance issues. He said they then agreed on Dec. 9 that she would remain, on probation, but she violated the terms and was dismissed on Dec. 27.

“I did not engage in any unlawful discriminatory practices, nor did Equi-Venture Farms,” said Swinnen, who also is an attorney.

Keck said he took disciplinary action against Haehn “as soon as we became aware of these allegations.” Department for Aging and Disability Services spokeswoman Angela de Rocha said she could not provide further details of how the case unfolded within the department, which typically does not comment on personnel issues.

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Follow John Hanna on Twitter: https://twitter.com/apjdhanna


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