The Los Angeles Police Department does not have to pay $2 million for firing a traffic cop who made unsubstantiated sexual harassment charges against a male supervisor, reports Courthouse News Service.
Officer Richard Joaquin said he refused to go on a date with Sgt. James Sands, so Sands retaliated against him in 2005.
During an Internal Affairs investigation, Joaquin described about 14 months of questionable interactions with Sands. Sands allegedly complimented Joaquin’s and other men’s bodies, and he often showed up to watch Joaquin at traffic stops.
CNS reports Sands also allegedly made flirtatious comments, such as asking Joaquin if he planned to take a shower or if they could talk on the phone when Joaquin had “desk duty.”
When Internal Affairs concluded that Joaquin’s harassment claims were unfounded, however, Sands filed his own complaint against Joaquin. The department then held a Board of Rights hearing, which found that Joaquin had filed a false complaint and recommended dismissal.
After the police chief accepted the board’s firing recommendation, Joaquin sought review in superior court, where a judge found in Joaquin’s favor.
The department reinstated Joaquin in 2009, but it reassigned him to a different division and has not promoted yet him to sergeant.
Joaquin in turn sued the department for wrongful retaliatory termination in violation of the Fair Employment and Housing Act. A jury ultimately awarded him $2 million for lost wages and emotional distress, but California’s Second Appellate District reversed the verdict this week, according to the CNS report.