Harassment Suit against Him is Settled: Ronnie Burt has resigned from his position as president and CEO of Visit KC. The resignation is effective Jan. 31. Burt, who came to Visit KC in June 2014 from Destination DC, where he was vice president of sales and services, had become the subject of employee complaints and a lawsuit filed by the organization’s former human resources manager Janette Barron.
Barron, a 21-year employee of the Kansas City bureau, claimed she was fired from the organization after she sought an investigation into claims of Burt’s alleged harassing and bullying behavior toward female employees. That lawsuit reached a settlement last week (on Jan. 10), according to court records. Attorneys for Burt and Barron were not available to discuss the settlement.
According to news accounts on the matter, it seems that things were triggered when Burt fired Barron in March 2017. Barron filed a lawsuit against Burt and Visit KC five months later on Aug. 25, 2017, alleging that she had received complaints from multiple employees about “Burt’s harassment, bullying and retaliation of female employees.”
The issue had not received much attention until last month, when the Kansas City Star reported that Burt had written a letter to Visit KC’s board claiming that employees at Visit KC were trying to undermine him and that then-board chairman Kevin Pistilli, owner of the Raphael Hotel Group asked him to resign in November.
Pistilli had told board members in an email that some of Burt’s claims were partly or entirely inaccurate, and confirmed that the organization was investigating complaints about Burt made by Visit KC employees.
In a statement released by Visit KC, Burt said: “It is with mixed emotions that I submit my resignation as your President and CEO. I have made the decision that now is the best time for me to move on and consider other opportunities. I am proud of the achievements made since 2014 with the support and hard work of the Visit KC Team.”
“I would like to thank him for his service and wish him the best in his future endeavors,” said newly appointed Visit KC board chairwoman CiCi Rojas, president and partner in Tico Productions. a multi-media marketing and production company, said in a written statement. “On behalf of the Board, we also want to thank all Visit KC employees for their hard work and dedication in realizing many achievements over the last few years.”
The board was expected to name an interim CEO shortly, then launch as search for a permanent replacement of Burt.