In Missouri, the Democrats are running Jason Kander against Roy Blunt for their Senate seat. Kander looked like a great choice on paper, being the Missouri Secretary of State and former member of the legislature. So far he’s made a spirited run in what is being described as one of the closest Senate races in the country. Kander looks like a natural choice for progressives and social justice types too. He prides himself on his fight against discrimination. In fact, when he first took his current office he made headlines by announcing that LGBT employees would be afforded the same protections under his tenure. (KCRU)
Missouri Secretary of State Jason Kander announced Thursday that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender employees in his office will now be protected under the office’s nondiscrimination policy. Sexual orientation and gender identity will be added to the list of other identifiers protected from discrimination and harassment.
“This is the right thing to do. Hiring and advancement decisions should be about an employee’s performance and their potential, and I think we can all agree on that,” Kander said. “An employee’s sexual orientation should have no bearing on those types of decisions.”
That sounds like great news, Jason. But one thing which didn’t seem to attract quite as much attention is that Kander is actually being sued in an anti-discrimination suit from one of his employees. Roumen Manolov is an employee of the Missouri Secretary of State office in the Securities Division. Roumen is a naturalized citizen of Bulgarian descent with extensive qualifications in his field and was hired as Deputy Chief Counsel for the Securities Division in 2008. After receiving nothing but glowing reviews, Roumen applied for several promotions, but received none of them, though he was allegedly the most qualified applicant. In 2014 the Secretary of State’s office posted an opening for a new Chief Registration Counsel / Director of Examination. Roumen applied for this position as well and was allegedly the only applicant with the qualifications listed in the posting.
Instead of being awarded the job, the Secretary of State’s office pulled the listing and then replaced it with an entirely newly created position to do the same thing, but with fewer qualifications required. That position was then given to someone else (who happened to be a native Missourian) and Roumen was instead given a different “promotion” which was described as a consolation prize, carrying fewer responsibilities and less of a salary increase.
The upshot of this is that Roumen Manolov brought suit against Andrew Hartnett (the Commissioner of Securities and Roumen’s boss) and Jason Kander. Here’s the front page of the filing.
The plaintiff charges that he has been discriminated against because of his national origin and suffered both financial loss and distress. This case is still in progress as you can see by doing a search on case number 15AC-CC00324 here.
Both parties will need to have their day in court to resolve it, but given what a fan of anti-discrimination protection Secretary Kander is as he seeks the office of United States Senator, he might want to comment on how this particular employment situation spun so badly out of control.