A veteran Los Angeles police sergeant who sued the city, alleging he was denied promotions in retaliation for taking time off to fulfill military obligations, reached a settlement in his case.
Sgt. Chad Lewis’ Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit alleged retaliation and discrimination based on military status. The lawyers reached a resolution during a mandatory settlement conference with Judge Monica Bachner on Thursday.
No terms were divulged and the court’s minute order did not state whether the settlement is subject to approval by the City Council.
Lewis joined the LAPD more than two decades ago. His suit, filed in July 2017, stated that Lewis is a reserve member of the military reserve forces and is assigned to the LAPD’s West Valley station. In January 2016, his supervisor, Lt. Kirk Kelley, wrote Lewis an email stating that he was being denied time off to take part in military service because he “must recognize that the LAPD is his primary employment,” according to the complaint.
Lewis said he gave Kelley information, available on the LAPD website, that outlined his right to be excused from work for military duty and to be free from discrimination based on his service obligations.
Kelley relented, but told Lewis, “If you’re going to wave this (military rights) information at me, we need to talk about your work ethic,” according to the complaint.
That same month, Kelley and then-West Valley Capt. Paul Vernon were among those who interviewed the plaintiff as he sought a promotion from sergeant 1 to sergeant 2, according to the plaintiff. Lewis was denied the position even though he had more seniority and was more qualified than others given the job, his suit alleged.
In May and June 2016, Lewis took two weeks off for military training. During that time, Vernon announced that Lewis’ grade as a sergeant was being reduced to one that offered him less priority concerning scheduling and assignments, according to the lawsuit.
Vernon and a West Valley captain also denied Lewis a coveted “complaint sergeant” position that is generally considered a path to promotion, the suit stated. Lewis’ background made him better suited for the post than the person selected, according to his court papers, which also say he was given a “frivolous” comment sheet criticizing his work performance.
“I’m getting a hard time over my military,” Lewis complained to one of his captains, according to his lawsuit.
He alleged he was repeatedly denied requests to work holidays and earn overtime wages, even though he was the senior sergeant on his shift.
He was hospitalized in May 2017 for stress related to the LAPD’s alleged discriminatory practices and has not returned to duty, according to his suit.
Deputy City Attorney Douglas Lyon filed paperwork saying that Lewis’ own statements contradicted his military discrimination claim. “In fact, plaintiff testified that the LAPD always accommodated his requests for days off when he needed to report for military service.”
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