The Los Angeles Police Department was one of the first in the nation actively hiring LGBT law enforcement officers in the late 90s. Yet a recent report by USA Today detailed the ways in which law enforcement officers in California who are lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender were allegedly discriminated against for their sexual orientation and/or gender identity.
In one case, plaintiff, a gay black man, said his fellow officers at the state highway patrol said that not only was the harassment demeaning (tying hangers in the shape of penises around the area of his locker, lobbing homophobic slurs at him, carving his name off an award plaque), it put his life at risk. When he called for backup during tense vehicle impoundments, high-speed stolen car pursuits or investigations into hit-and-run accidents, his fellow officers wouldn’t even respond. This led to a workplace environment that was not only hostile, but dangerous. And it’s been going on for years. Even as a cadet at the state highway patrol, a fellow cadet put a gun to his head, saying he knew he was a homosexual and threatening to pull the trigger.
Plaintiff filed one complaint after another internally. Supervisors, he alleges, did nothing. So three years ago, he sued the California State Highway Patrol for LGBT workplace discrimination. He cited 20 years of discrimination and harassment. His was one in a wave of lawsuits asserting anti-gay discrimination by law enforcement agents. Many of them describe workplace environments that were abusive and hostile. Some said they were subjected cruel taunts – on top of limitations on career opportunities. Their work standards were starkly different compared to other officers. They were passed over for key promotions. They were denied protection on-the-job. All of it, our LGBT discrimination attorneys understand, came down to their sexual orientation. Continue reading