Metro-East News

Local tax agent’s suit alleges he was forced out after suffering stroke

A Granite City man has filed a lawsuit against his former employer, claiming a violation of Missouri’s Human Rights Act.

Ken Kibort filed a lawsuit Friday in St. Louis County Circuit Court against the Missouri Department of Revenue. Kibort, 60, claims he was forced to resign as a special agent with the Criminal Tax Investigation Bureau after he suffered a stroke at work in June 2015, shortly after starting his employment. Kibort is seeking lost wages and benefits, damages for emotional distress, punitive damages, attorney’s fees and other litigation costs. He is seeking a jury trial. Kibort is being represented by St. Louis law firm Sedey Harper Westhoff.

According to the lawsuit, Kibort began working for the Department of Revenue at the end of March 2015. He previously had spent more than 30 years with the Internal Revenue Service, working on cases that involved tax fraud and money laundering. The lawsuit said he worked with a fraud group and served as an expert witness in criminal tax proceedings on behalf of the government.

Kibort said he had not received any write-ups or other disciplinary action while he was with the Department of Revenue. Kibort suffered a major stroke while at work in early June 2015. The stroke impaired his ability to walk and use his right hand. Through physical therapy he was able to walk again, but still has “right neglect” in his right eye, which impairs his peripheral vision, and has limited use of his right hand. He has been able to drive since July 2015.

In October 2015, Kibort informed his supervisors he was ready to return to work in November. Kibort said one of his supervisors asked him if he wanted to return to work or resign and said he would have to speak with the human resources department. The supervisor called Kibort back and said he would not be allowed to return to work and that he had to resign or be fired. The supervisor told Kibort that if he resigned, he would be eligible for rehire.

Kibort resigned from his position. He was told that he was not being allowed to return to his position because he had not completed his probationary period, which was one year from his hiring date. He started to work for the Department of Revenue after retiring from the IRS. He said his salary was $41,000 a year.

“It was keeping me busy and I love doing that type of work,” Kibort said. He is currently doing some consulting work, but does not have a full-time job.

The lawsuit alleges Kibort applied for jobs with the Department of Revenue on at least four occasions and was not hired. Among the jobs he applied for was his former position. The lawsuit alleges that a younger person with less experience, who does not have any disabilities, was hired instead of him.

On March 14, 2016, Kibort filed a discrimination charge with the Missouri Commission on Human Rights in connection with his job with the Department of Revenue. Last month, the Commission on Human Rights issued Kibort a notice of right to sue.

Don O'Brien: 618-239-2626, @DOBrienBND