L.A. pays $1.5 million in racial harassment case

The Los Angeles City Council signed off this week on a $1.5-million payment to a black police officer who said he repeatedly experienced racial harassment and a hostile work environment while working for the Police Department.

Earl Wright, an LAPD officer since 1989, sued the city two years ago, saying he was repeatedly humiliated by co-workers who carried out racial pranks and made derogatory remarks.

The council’s payment comes at a time when city leaders are reexamining workplace training for city employees. Council President Herb Wesson and Councilwoman Nury Martinez have called for a dramatic expansion in the number of city workers who take sexual harassment training. That training also offers information on issues surrounding race and ethnicity, a high-level official in the personnel department said.

Martinez said she offered the proposal, in part, as a response to two lawsuits: One alleges that Councilman Jose Huizar engaged in sexual harassment. The other accuses John Lee, chief of staff to Councilman Mitchell Englander, of making inappropriate sexual jokes and comments. Both Englander and Huizar have called the allegations in the respective lawsuits false.


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