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Harassed police officers receive $1.25 million settlement

Two LAPD officers have received a $1.25 million settlement after filing a lawsuit against the Los Angeles City Council.

The two openly gay female officers, one current employee and one retired officer, said they were subjected to repeated sexual harassment by the sergeant who supervised them over a number of years. The officers' claims allege vulgar, lewd and harassing comments and gestures referencing their sexual orientation.

It is not the first claim the LAPD has faced – it is just the latest in a series of six- and seven-figures payouts made by the department to employees who have claimed they were harassed and discriminated against during the course of their employment.

One of the most damning elements of this case is the department's lack of action in response to the claims. The lawsuit stated that the officers reported the inappropriate behaviour to their supervisors on a number of occasions, but that no investigation or disciplinary action resulted from their reports. The officers' lawyer pointed out that the department had plenty of policies in place to deal with these sorts of claims – but it had not put any of them into action.

Once the lawsuit was filed, an internal investigation was conducted. The sergeant at the centre of the claim resigned during the course of the inquiry. The Los Angeles City Council decided in an 11–1 vote to settle the case and avoid a trial.

This highlights the need to always act on complaints promptly and according to the organisation's policies and procedures. Inaction or delay can be costly in monetary terms but also damages the organisation's reputation and staff morale.

iHR Australia offers EEO training for managers and employees which is an important step in mitigating risk and helping to prevent inappropriate behaviour.

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