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City will settle LAPD officers' sexual orientation harassment suit

Last week on our Los Angeles / Long Beach employment law blog, we had mentioned that a Los Angeles Police Department officer had won his race harassment lawsuit that he had filed against the city for failing to protect his rights and for failing to put an end to harassment in the workplace when supervisors and other officials became aware of the environment the black officer was forced to work in.

When one worker is disrespected in the workplace because of his or her race, disability, gender or other "difference," it is not uncommon for other workers to also be at risk of being subjected to the same type of inappropriate behavior by colleagues or supervisors. When harassment and discrimination goes unaddressed, employers may end up fostering hostile work environments.

The LAPD appears to have fostered a hostile environment for other workers over the years. Just a week before the police officer's race harassment suit went to trial, the city chose to settle another harassment lawsuit that had been filed by two female officers who claimed that they were subjected to harassing remarks because of their sexual orientation.

According to the female officers' lawsuit, the two officers were transferred to work with a different supervisor in 2010. After working for their new supervisor, the two women began to face harassment in the workplace.

The two women are lesbians, and they were both open about their sexual orientation. Although they should have been treated like anyone else in the workplace, the two women claimed that their supervisor harassed them for being gay. The supervisor allegedly made inappropriate propositions and offensive comments on several occasions. The LAPD officers filed complaints about the harassment; the complaints were not addressed or resolved.

The city agreed to settle the female officers' lawsuit for $1.25 million.

Putting an end to harassment can be challenging, especially when employers fail to take workers' complaints of harassment seriously. Fortunately, the two LAPD officers were able to get the justice they deserve after being harassed in the workplace for their sexual orientation. It is certainly not fair that they were treated so poorly in the workplace, but by taking legal action, they were finally able to hold their employer accountable for violating their rights.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "Lesbian LAPD officers settle harassment suit for $1.25 million," Joel Rubin, March 20, 2013

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