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Dennis E. Egan- Popham Law Firm

A textbook case of sex discrimination in broadcast journalism propelled Dennis Egan’s employment-law practice in the early 1980s.

As a young lawyer at Gage & Tucker in Kansas City, Egan represented Christine Craft, a Kansas City anchorwoman for KMBC-TV, in her 1981 suit against the station in which she claimed station management demoted her because of her age and attractiveness.dennisegan

Craft brought claims of sex discrimination, fraud and violations of the Equal Pay Act against the station in federal court in Kansas. The suit resulted in a 1983 verdict against the station for $500,000 in damages.

“That case was followed by every station in town — every network, for some reason — for the issues it raised about appearance,” he said.

In 1985, Egan moved to the Popham Law Firm to further his employment-law practice. He remains there today.

“I have not looked back since because it was a match made in heaven,” he said.

Egan is a graduate of the University of Missouri School of Law. He said he didn’t initially set out to go to law school, but while obtaining an undergraduate degree in journalism at Mizzou, he developed both speaking skills and curiosity about the legal field. He found it was a good fit.

Looking back on his four decades as a lawyer, Egan pointed to two other standout cases of which he’s proud: Sprint v. Mendelsohn, and Cox v. Kansas City Chiefs Football Club Inc., in Missouri state court. Both cases were age-discrimination cases that touched on the issue of admissibility of “me-too” evidence, or evidence from people who aren’t parties in a discrimination case but claim they were subjected to similar mistreatment by a defendant.

The cases went to the U.S. Supreme Court and the Missouri Supreme Court, respectively. Egan was able to obtain rulings in favor of the plaintiffs in each case.

Outside of his practice, he is proud of his work with the National Employment Lawyers Association, or NELA. He served on NELA’s board of directors for 12 years and helped to establish a trial boot camp for the organization.

He also helped to found Kansas City’s affiliate of NELA in 1993. He was instrumental in starting the affiliate’s Second Chair program, which connects young attorneys with more senior attorneys to obtain help on cases going to trial.

Egan is passionate about passing his knowledge along to others. When giving talks about trial practice, he said he stresses that lawyers always should be improving their work.

“You have to be a student of your craft. You have to continue to work on it,” he said. “You have to continue jump shots to be Michael Jordan or LeBron [James]. It’s the same with trial lawyers.”

He also said the work of a trial lawyer isn’t just about obtaining big verdicts.

“The big deal is to be able to enjoy what you do and help people, and help other lawyers,” he said. “It’s just paying it forward.”

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