A woman who sued the city, alleging she was wrongfully denied a Los Angeles police civilian position in 2017 because of a false hearing loss diagnosis, has settled her case.
Nicole Downey brought her suit in Los Angeles Superior Court in April 2020, alleging discrimination based on a perceived disability and failure to hire in violation of public policy. Her attorneys filed a notice of settlement on Dec. 21 with Judge Timothy Patrick Dillon. No terms were divulged.
In their court papers, lawyers for the City Attorney’s Office maintained Downey’s suit was barred by the statute of limitations and that she was never perceived as disabled by the city.
Downey applied in October 2016 for the position of LAPD police service representative, which entails dispatching police patrol cars as well and answering 911 calls, according to her court papers.
Downey says she took a written exam the following month and in January 2017 was interviewed by a panel. She passed a background check, and the next month, the city notified her that she had passed the hiring requirements and she was given a conditional job offer, according to the suit.
But on April 19, 2017, the city gave Downey a medical examination and a doctor alleged she had a minor hearing loss and that she failed the test, the suit stated.
A “shocked” Downey scheduled an appointment with her own physician and also made appointments with specialists, according to her court papers. She underwent at least 10 more hearing exams and, contrary to the city physician’s findings, the plaintiff’s doctors concluded that she could “effectively carry out the essential job duties without restrictions and that she did not need a hearing aid,” the suit stated.
One of the specialists wrote the city doctor a letter stating that Downey’s hearing would not be an issue because she would be wearing an amplified headset while using the phone, the suit stated.
Downey “incurred significant out-of-pocket expenses as a result of having to visit … medical specialists and take the additional hearing exams …” the suit stated.
However, the city still refused to hire Downey, allegedly because of her perceived disability, and the conditional job offer was withdrawn in July 2017, according to the suit.
Downey says she filed an appeal with then-LAPD Chief Charlie Beck and to Elena Nihoa-Asucan, commanding officer of the LAPD’s Personnel Department, but neither responded.
According to the City Attorney’s Office‘s court papers, Downey passed the civil service examination and interview portions of the application process, but failed the required medical screening because she had a minor hearing loss.
Passing the medical screening is a condition precedent to being an LAPD police service representative, so she was not hired, the suit states.