A bisexual LAPD officer is suing the city, alleging he was subjected to a backlash for his sexual orientation and for complaining about sexual and gender harassment involving others that he observed on the job.
A representative for the City Attorney’s Office could not be immediately reached for comment on Vincenzo Averaimo’s Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit, which alleges discrimination, retaliation and failure to prevent discrimination and retaliation.
He’s seeking unspecified damages in the suit brought Wednesday.
Averaimo, who works in the LAPD’s Transit Services Division, was a witness in two complaints of sexual harassment in June 2019, according to his court papers. In one, a sergeant was alleged to have inappropriately touched a female, and in the other, an officer allegedly harassed an LAPD civilian employee regarding her weight, the suit says.
Averaimo alleges he was subsequently subjected to higher scrutiny by his supervisors, who began deciding routine public complaints against him, including a July 2019 use-of-force incident in which the plaintiff was given a correction notice despite not being directly involved in any use of force.
In September 2019, Averaimo’s supervisor found out that the plaintiff utilized a Grindr application to arrange a meeting with a man, according to the suit. Before then, Averaimo’s bisexuality was unknown to the LAPD, and as a result of the revelation, his command staff chose to harass him even more, the suit alleges.
One such instance occurred when Averaimo conducted a traffic stop of a driver in March 2020 for speeding, the suit says. The violator was given a traffic citation, but Averaimo says he learned that an anonymous third party filed a biased complaint against the plaintiff regarding the traffic stop.
Averaimo’s supervisors “decided to bench plaintiff from public contact” and a sergeant chastised him about the incident, the suit says.
Averaimo had meetings with members of the LAPD’s Employee Relations Group in June and July 2020 and complained he was a victim of discrimination and retaliation based on his sexual orientation, the suit states. Also in July 2020, he was given a negative work evaluation, the only unsatisfactory annual rating he has received in 14 years as a police officer, according to the complaint.
“The LAPD’s actions against plaintiff are ongoing and are motivated by both discriminatory and retaliatory animus,” the suit alleges.
Averaimo says he was subsequently given a downgrade of his position by two pay levels, handed an administrative transfer and suspended for five days. He also was removed from overtime shifts, the suit alleges.
The LAPD’s alleged mistreatment of Averaimo has caused damage to his professional reputation and his ability to work, forcing him take a different retirement path, causing him to lose overtime pay and adversely affecting his income, pension and other benefits, the suit states.
Averaimo’s health also has been adversely affected and he anticipates having more future medical expenses, according to his court papers.