LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — The Los Angeles City Council on Wednesday gave the go-ahead for a $1.5-million legal settlement to a black police officer who alleged workplace discrimination and a hostile work environment.
Earl Wright, a 23-year LAPD veteran, said that when he hit 20 years of service, his supervisor presented him with a cake topped with a fried chicken leg and slice of watermelon.
Wright sued, charging he was subjected to racial harassment, discrimination and a hostile work environment. A jury with the Los Angeles Superior Court awarded Wright $1.2 million in March.
The $1,498,884 settlement approved Wednesday by the Council also covers attorney fees, court costs and other penalties, according city attorney spokesman Frank Mateljan.
Wright’s attorney, Gregory W. Smith, accused former supervisor Sgt. Peter Foster, who is white, of making Wright’s work life so intolerable that he was hospitalized at one point and was off work for a total of seven months.
Wright filed his lawsuit in January 2011, claiming the offensive conduct began in 2008-09.
In June 2010, Foster sent Wright a text message showing a yellow duckling with its wings above its head while standing in front of five black ducklings, according to the suit. It was captioned with the “N” word to ask the reader what he was up to, the suit stated.
Wright said a photograph of him and that of another officer, Lenny Davis, were doctored into a “Sanford and Son” poster that was displayed at the Central Station where Wright worked.
Although Foster was eventually transferred and is no longer with the department, Smith said Wright’s superiors were slow to take action and should have removed the supervisor immediately.