More than 250 police officers have filed lawsuits against the Los Angeles Police Department since 2005 for employment law violations like discrimination, sexual harassment and retaliation. At this point 45 have been settled, while others are in the appeals process and others are still pending.
In addition to the high number of lawsuits being filed, between 2005 and 2010 the city has also spent quite a bit of money, reportedly paying out more than $18 million, with some officers walking away with five or even six figure payments.
One such case was from a lawsuit filed by a canine handler for the police department. She claimed that male officers had made inappropriate sexual comments and advances toward her, and had also excluded her from certain training exercises. She ended up suing the department, and in 2009 city officials settled her claim by paying her $2.25 million.
However, it didn’t stop there are as two other officers also claimed to have been retaliated against for sticking up for the woman. A canine handler who had worked with the woman claimed he was expelled from the unit and had his ranked stripped for defending the woman, and a sergeant also claimed to have been retaliated against after he refused to change the woman’s performance evaluation.
In both of those cases the city refused to settle, and in court both of the officers won their cases with the other canine handler being awarded $2.5 million, and the supervisor receiving close to $750,000 in damages.
The Police Protective League, which serves as the union for rank-and-file officers, sees the lawsuits as indicative of a greater problem within the department, and city officials are now calling for the department to do more in terms of workplace conflict resolution measures in order to avoid such a large number of expensive lawsuits.
Source: San Jose Mercury News, “Report: LA pays big bucks in LAPD workplace suits,” 8 May 2011