By Clair McFarland, General Assignment Reporter
Casper’s police chief has responded to a workplace discrimination lawsuit by two female detectives, saying the women’s claims aren’t supported and should be dismissed.
The two detectives sued Chief Keith McPheeters in his individual capacity in October, claiming he looked the other way while Casper Police Department Detective Chase Nash bragged about the size of his manhood to coworkers and ultimately made a miserable working environment for the women, Shannon Daley and Keri Patrick.
Nash reportedly wrongly believed that Daley and Patrick were responsible for a 2021 internal investigation against him for numerous instances of sexual harassment, the women allege in their lawsuit.
McPheeters retorted in his own filing in the U.S. District Court for Wyoming on Monday, stating through his attorneys from the Wyoming Attorney General’s office, that Daley and Patrick don’t have grounds to sue him.
McPheeters asks the court to dismiss the suit.
“No clearly established law in the 10th Circuit or the Supreme Court mandates that a supervisor, presented with a finding that a male employee engaged in inappropriate sexual comments, must fire the perpetrating employee rather than impose a lesser sanction,” reads McPheeters’ response.
McPheeters’ response says that after Nash was investigated, he reportedly switched from talking about sexual organs and libido with women to retaliating against Daley and Patrick.
The women had alleged that Nash complained about them to superiors, and sabotaged their work efforts.
This behavior switch, says McPheeters in his response, should work as proof that the Casper police chief did punish Nash somehow for his sexual harassment.
“The implication … is that McPheeters did not let Nash go scot-free,” the response says.
Nash reportedly filed an Equal Employee Opportunity Commission complaint after the investigation, alleging he was being mistreated for being male.
Daley and Patrick had implied in their lawsuit that McPheeters wouldn’t fire Nash because of Nash’s discrimination complaint against the department.
Nash later retired.
McPheeters’ attorneys launched multiple counter-arguments against the women’s claims.
First, they said the women can’t accuse McPheeters of workplace discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act because they only sued McPheeters as an individual, rather than in his official capacity as police chief.
Second, the attorneys argued that the women don’t have a “plausible discrimination claim” to support the allegation that McPheeters discriminated against them, because the statute they cited in that claim guarantees racial, not sex-based, protection.
Attorneys also argued the women’s claim that McPheeters was either malicious or recklessly indifferent to their federally-protected rights did not have enough evidence to support a lawsuit, adding that there’s not enough indication that McPheeters knew the full extent of Nash’s alleged abuse and did not in fact punish it.
McPheeters should be entitled to qualified immunity, the attorneys concluded. Qualified immunity protects government officials from lawsuits when they’re acting within the scope of their duties, unless they knowingly violate statutory or Constitutional rights.