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Los Angeles officer wins racial harassment lawsuit, awarded $1.2M

Los Angeles is a diverse city, but even though residents of all races and religions live here, folks continue to face harassment and discrimination on the basis of their race, national origin, religion, sexual orientation and gender. Unfortunately, discrimination and harassment is not something that only occurs on the streets; it also occurs in the workplace. The workplace should be a place where all hard-working employees are respected, but not all employers respect the rights of their employees.

Earlier this week, the Los Angeles Police Department was held responsible for failing to provide a respectful work environment for its employees after an LAPD officer had filed a race harassment complaint against his employer. The officer, who is black, claimed that he had been harassed on numerous occasions because of his race. The officer said that supervisors were aware of the harassment; however, no one at the LAPD addressed the issue to make sure the illegal behavior ended in the workplace.

The city originally offered to settle the officer's lawsuit for $10,000. The officer rejected the settlement and his case against the city went to trial this month. According to reports, a jury sided with the officer. The jury awarded the officer $1.2 million on Tuesday.

The outcome of the trial is certainly a victory for the officer, but it is unfortunate that he has had to endure so much humiliation and embarrassment in the workplace. The officer began working for the LAPD in 1989. Throughout his career with the department, he was subjected to offensive racial comments and pranks. During the trial, the LAPD tried to argue that the officer "willingly participated" in some of the jokes and pranks, and that he went along with the inappropriate behavior in the workplace. However, the jury pointed out that nothing was done by the LAPD to address the inappropriate behavior.

The jury concluded that the LAPD should have put an end to the harassment when supervisors became aware of what was going on and how the officer was being treated by his supervisor and peers. The LAPD has stated that it will focus on monitoring and addressing workplace issues in a more effective manner.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "LAPD officer wins $1.2 million verdict in racial harassment suit," Joel Rubin, March 26, 2013

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