One of four Los Angeles police dog handlers who sued the city alleging they suffered a backlash for reporting the alleged sexual harassment of one of their members and complaining about being pressured to fabricate overtime claims has reached a settlement in her part of the case, her attorney said.
LAPD Officers Karolin Clarke, Elliot Zibli, Ricardo Sanchez and David Dooros filed the lawsuit in August 2016 in Los Angeles Superior Court, alleging sex/gender harassment and retaliation. The suit seeks unspecified damages.
The quartet’s attorney, Gregory W. Smith, told Judge Samantha Jessner on Wednesday that Clarke’s claims against the city have been resolved, subject to approval by the City Council. He did not divulge the terms. He also said Zibli is no longer part of the case and that he is hopeful settlements can also be reached regarding the Sanchez and Dooros claims.
Jessner set another hearing for Sept. 5 for an update.
All four plaintiffs became bloodhound handlers in 2015 in the LAPD’s gang and narcotics division, according to their suit, which says their services increased in demand on a citywide basis and they began to work many overtime shifts.
The suit alleges that soon after being put in charge of the plaintiffs’ unit in May 2015, Sgt. Joe Danny Garcia began to harass Clarke by making inappropriate comments, leering at her and showing up at many of her LAPD duty calls.
Clarke asked Garcia to stop his advances and to cease coming to her calls, the suit alleges.
Zibli and Sanchez were present during at least one of the times Clarke complained to Garcia about his alleged behavior toward her, prompting Garcia to believe the two male officers could testify against him if she made a sexual harassment report to the department, the suit says.
Garcia also was concerned that Dooros would report him based on the plaintiff’s objections to the sergeant’s sexual comments about Clarke, the suit alleges.
The complaint also alleges that Garcia began to falsify his overtime slips and tried to persuade the plaintiffs to do the same. The four officers complained to a lieutenant about Garcia’s alleged overtime falsfications, which they considered a theft of city money, the suit states.
The plaintiffs allege they told the lieutenant that Garcia had instructed them to remain at the scene of incidents even after the calls were resolved so that he could finish driving there and bill for more overtime.
Garcia retaliated by refusing to answer or relay calls for bloodhound assistance from other department divisions and units, causing the four officers to lose about $3,000 a month in overtime pay, the suit alleges.
Garcia further retaliated by telling supervisors that the plaintiffs were “miscreants” who did not want their bosses present at their calls, according to the complaint.
Angry at being rebuffed by Clarke, Garcia told other male supervisors that she had a poor disposition, which discouraged them from wanting to work with her because they feared she could file a sexual harassment complaint against them, the suit alleges.
Despite their complaints, the four officers continued to experience a backlash, the suit states.
For example, Dooros was not given a replacement for his 11-year-old bloodhound, which should be retired due to age, according to the complaint.
Conditions became so intolerable for Dooros that he entered a program in July 2016 in which he will retire earlier than he otherwise would have, the suit says.