Northeast Tarrant

Richland Hills facing age discrimination suit from Tarrant County’s first female police chief

Former Richland Hills police chief Barbara Childress has sued the city, alleging age discrimination.
Former Richland Hills police chief Barbara Childress has sued the city, alleging age discrimination. Courtesy

Barbara Childress, who was Tarrant County’s first female police chief, has filed an age discrimination suit against Richland Hills, alleging that she was fired last year because of her age.

Childress, who was 69 when she was terminated in March, filed the lawsuit Monday in state district court.

“The bottom line is that I am grateful to have served Richland Hills as their police chief for 34 years, and I’m looking forward to the truth coming out,” Childress said.

City manager Eric Strong could not be reached for comment Monday afternoon.

Childress was fired after receiving a complaint that she had violated Richland Hills personnel policies by engaging in gender bias. The city later cleared Childress of gender bias, and she filed a age discrimination complaint in May with the Texas Workforce Commission. She received a right-to-sue letter in November.

Jason Smith, an attorney representing Childress wrote in an email to the Star-Telegram: “In today’s economy, people are having to work longer. Chief Childress gave 34 years of impeccable service. The evidence will show that Chief Childress was shown the door because she was old even though she had more to offer the city.”

In July, the Star-Telegram reported that Strong initially failed to disclose that Childress was cleared in a gender bias complaint, and he also did not provide the document in an open records request filed by the Star-Telegram.

“I don’t know why it wasn’t included, but it was not intentional on our part,” he said at the time.

Childress was accused of hiring and promoting women for positions of captain and passing over qualified male candidates. The complaint also accused her of transferring a male detective.

Childress was replaced by Kim Sylvester, who was 43 at the time of her appointment in July.

Childress is seeking between $200,000 and $1 million and reinstatement to her position.

With my guide dog Barbara, I keep tabs on growth, economic development and other issues in Northeast Tarrant cities and other communities near Fort Worth. I’ve been a reporter at the Star-Telegram for 34 years.