Professional Work Culture--or sick and dysfunctional?

Cop awarded $1.2 million in discrimination lawsuit
March 18, 2009

SANTA ANA – A Newport Beach police sergeant was awarded $1.2 million
yesterday after a jury agreed with his claims that he was discriminated against
based on false rumors that he was gay.

Sgt. Neil Harvey, a 27-year veteran, alleged in his lawsuit that the city retaliated
against him because of the gossip and denied him a lieutenant position
although he had more experience and formal education than other candidates.
Harvey claimed former Police Chief Bob McDonell didn't promote those
perceived to be gay.

Harvey acknowledged after the jury's decision he felt some apprehension about
returning to work today after taking three weeks off for the court proceedings. “I
know that I came here and I told the truth,” he said. “With that in mind, I return
to work.”

The trial showed deep divisions in the department, with several rank-and-file
officers testifying in support of Harvey's claims and several higher ranking
members trying to dispel the allegations.

The city claimed Harvey wasn't promoted to other positions because of a
hypercritical style that bothered colleagues. Jurors were not swayed, with two of
them saying after the verdict that being detail-oriented was a weak reason for
denying someone advancement.

Harvey has a lengthy résumé that includes an advanced college education and
a top award for bravery.

In addition, the seven-woman, five-man jury agreed that Harvey faced
retaliation for, among other things, defending an officer he thought was unfairly
criticized by a superior.

The $1.2 million award includes economic damages – wages and pension
benefits resulting from lost promotions – and compensation for enduring

An attorney for the city wouldn't say if an appeal would be pursued, but Police
Chief John Klein appeared willing to let the matter rest.
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