Jury awards LAPD lieutenant $4.37 million in discrimination/retaliation suit
A jury Monday awarded $4.37 million to a veteran Los Angeles police lieutenant who sued the city for disability discrimination and retaliation, alleging a supervisor minimized the plaintiff’s on-duty back problem and that the department ignored his requests for light duty in order to heal.
The Los Angeles Superior Court panel deliberated for about two days before finding in favor of Lt. Lou Vince, who also is a member of the Agua Dulce Town Council and ran unsuccessfully for the 25th Congressional District seat in 2016 that was retained that year by former Rep. Steve Knight, R-Santa Clarita.
Vince was hired in 1995, received numerous commendations through his career and was promoted often, according to his court papers, which further state that before the incidents leading up to his lawsuit he never had any negative issues with his supervisors.
Vince’s lawsuit, filed in April 2018, also alleged failure to reasonably accommodate and failure to engage in the interactive process.
In their court papers, lawyers for the City Attorney’s Office maintained that the LAPD had “legitimate, non-discriminatory and non-retaliatory reasons for every action” taken against Vince and denied that he was retaliated against for complaining.
Vince suffered back injuries in 2008 while a patrol officer and underwent spinal fusion surgery in 2015, shortly after he was promoted to lieutenant, Vince’s court papers stated. While recovering at home, his supervisor captain called him numerous times to pressure him to return to work despite his disability, his court papers stated.
When Vince did return, his boss was upset that the plaintiff had medical work restrictions and insisted that he have them lifted, according to Vince’s court papers. Vince complied, but he continued to be unable to work wearing his full duty belt because of his ongoing back problems, his court papers stated.
Vince was never given a light-duty position as he had requested to allow his back to heal, his court papers stated.
When Vince complained about disability discrimination, he was subjected to retaliation via station transfers and job reassignments, according to his court papers.
In 2017, Vince learned from his wife, LAPD Lt. Stacey Vince, that a deputy chief had maintained a secret file on him that was not part of his official personnel file, according to Vince’s court papers.
“According to the department, despite an internal investigation that concluded keeping the file was not misconduct, the secret file was apparently destroyed and no longer exists,” according to Vince’s court papers.