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L.A. to settle discrimination lawsuits filed by gay police officers

L.A. to settle discrimination lawsuits filed by gay police officers

The city of Los Angeles has tentatively agreed to pay $650,000 to settle lawsuits filed by two gay police officers who claim they were discriminated against because of their sexual orientation. Sgt. Robert Duncan, 42, would receive more than $200,000 to resolve claims that his career was damaged after fellow officers discovered he was gay, the Los Angeles Times reported. Officer Alan Weiner, 45, who said he was harassed while working as a training officer, would get about $450,000. "To me, it was very clear that Alan was singled out over a series of years because of his sexual orientation. That's wrong and it's also illegal," said Brad Gage, Weiner's attorney. "When a police department breaks the law, that's especially outrageous." Both settlements must be approved by the Los Angeles city council. If ratified, the settlements would boost to nearly $3 million the city's payouts to eight gay officers. A Los Angeles police department spokesman declined to comment. The lawsuits follow a 1993 settlement under which the LAPD agreed to end discrimination against gays by recruiting from the gay population, instructing on topics related to sexual orientation, and banning the disqualification of applicants for promotion because of sexual orientation. The agreement stemmed from a lawsuit filed by retired sergeant Mitch Grobeson and two other officers, who received a $770,000 settlement. Despite the 1993 agreement, 16 gay officers identified in a recent Times story claimed that being openly gay in the LAPD threatened their careers. They said gay officers were prevented from working in specialized police units such as metro, SWAT, organized crime, or antiterrorism. In November police chief William J. Bratton said gay officers have been forced to sue to end discrimination. He said the department was working to address issues related to gay officers. "There are going to be bumps in the road; there are going to be curves and detours that we are going to have to take. But I think the most significant thing is that the journey has begun," he said. Duncan, who sued the city in August 2003, and Weiner both reached tentative agreements with the city earlier this month.

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