LAPD officer sues department, alleging supervisors ignored sexual harassment

A Los Angeles police sergeant has sued the city, alleging she was targeted in an online harassment campaign because she reported co-workers for sharing sexist memes. The lawsuit also alleges that her supervisors tried to suspend and demote her after she complained.

sergeant. Darcy French, who joined the LAPD in 1998, said she reported the conduct to her superiors in late summer 2020, hoping they would intervene after she was the subject of demeaning and humiliating posts about social networks – presumably other officers.

Instead, according to her lawsuit, the complaint was ignored for months and then her superiors “orchestrated a series of actions ostensibly” intended to discredit her and retaliate against her for reporting the abuse.

In the lawsuit, filed last month in Los Angeles County Superior Court, French alleged the retaliation didn’t end there. She said she was removed from the position of lieutenant three times between February and July 2022. During this period, she claims, she was administratively forced out of the Southeast Division, threatened suspended twice, then downgraded from Sergeant II to Policeman III.

The lawsuit alleges that department management contributed to a hostile work environment by failing “to take prompt and adequate corrective action to stop offensive social media posts or to hold offending employees accountable.”

When reached Thursday, French’s attorney, Leila Al Faiz, declined to comment. The Los Angeles City Attorney’s Office said it could not discuss ongoing litigation.

Shortly after the harassment began, French said she tried to raise her concerns with her captain, Clinton Dohmen. But, instead of helping her, the suit alleges Dohmen began to avoid French. He repeatedly canceled or refused meetings with her and removed some of her duties without justification.

He then went on to advise her “unfairly” “for allegedly being mean, hostile and unprofessional based on unspecified and unsubstantiated criticism by unidentified officers who were more likely than not simply unhappy because the complainant had reported the memes,” the lawsuit said.

The hyper-sexualized posts allegedly began in July 2020, after French became aware of a sexist meme shared by some Southeast Division officers during his shift. The meme appeared to mock a cop from a gang unit who stopped a Southeast officer from using a baton on a suspect.

French alleges the meme described the stick as a tampon, and the caption read something like “that’s what [the gang unit] brings to a UOF,” using an acronym for a use of force incident.

The meme, the suit says, compared the actions of the unidentified gang officer to the feminine hygiene product “to signify weakness by appealing to negative gender stereotypes.”

French says she berated officers under her command during roll call, warning them that posting or sharing such memes could lead to disciplinary action.

Shortly after, she became aware of another “derogatory” meme which featured an image of Hello Kitty accompanied by a captain suggesting that the gang unit had gone “crying” to the commander of the third watch, the position of French.

French said she continued to raise the issue on subsequent roll calls; as she did, memes began to specifically target her and became more vulgar.

The online abuse lasted from around July 2020 to June 2021, according to the lawsuit.

“Many posts or memes used negative gender stereotypes, such as portraying the requester as a bird or a sulky child, contained offensive, degrading, threatening and sexualized references to the requester, and depicted violence against the requester,” said the trial.

The posts were posted to the @chippies_comedy social media account, according to the suit, and “several memes or posts targeted other female department employees because of their sex or gender.”

One of those messages referred to gang rape, according to the suit, referring to French’s position and the Metropolitan Division of the LAPD.

“Plaintiff saw these and other offensive social media posts and learned that they were widely viewed, shared and discussed by LAPD employees throughout the department,” the lawsuit alleged. “The plaintiff was humiliated, offended and threatened by this harassing conduct directed at her and other employees in the department.”

French said she filed a harassment complaint in July 2020 but wasn’t interviewed by department officials until five months later.

“Yet, despite knowledge of the above misconduct explicitly targeting [French]LAPD management failed to take prompt and appropriate corrective action to stop and remedy the harassment she experienced,” the lawsuit states.

The lawsuit alleges that “no proper discipline was imposed for these flagrant acts.”

The following March, she shared her complaints about the department’s “failure to condemn and address derogatory and degrading online posts” in a letter to the Association of Professional Peace Officers of Los Angeles County, reports the trial. The letter has been brought to the attention of department management and the Office of Professional Standards, it says.

She was eventually transferred out of the Southeast, where she had spent the previous five years, unable to bear the continued harassment.

Instead of taking her concerns seriously and investigating the matter, French alleges that department management retaliated against her by “filing several frivolous complaints.” In 2022, department leadership twice recommended suspending her for five days for allegations made against her for past conduct, and also wanted to demote her.

The lawsuit said the department stripped him of most of his duties in May, leaving him with little to do since then.

She filed a whistleblower complaint against the city in August.

Over the years, the department has been dogged by allegations made by female officers describing a rude and sexist culture within its ranks.

In one of the biggest scandals to rock the department recently, LAPD Captain Lillian Carranza sued the department after other officers began circulating a photo of a naked woman some falsely claimed to be her. . Last year, a jury awarded Carranza $4 million in damages.

Jurors in the Carranza case also found that the LAPD failed to take immediate and appropriate corrective action to address the hostile environment, as required by state law. Another LAPD detective, Tina Rios, settled her sexual harassment lawsuit against the city in February.

The treatment of women in municipal departments, including the LAPD, is the subject of a study by UCLA researchers expected to be published this year.

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