A longtime Los Angeles Police Department officer has settled her lawsuit against the city in which she alleged she suffered retaliation, including an unwarranted internal affairs investigation, after speaking out against disability discrimination experienced by herself and other officers.
Attorneys for Officer Kathy Simpson filed court papers on Tuesday with Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Michael P. Linfield stating that a “conditional” settlement was reached. No terms were revealed and the court papers stated that a request for dismissal will be filed by Dec. 15.
In their court papers, lawyers for the City Attorney’s Office denied any wrongdoing on the LAPD’s part and said any actions taken against Simpson were for legitimate reasons that were neither discriminatory nor retaliatory.
Simpson’s lawsuit alleged discrimination, retaliation, failure to accommodate and failure to engage in the interactive process. She was hired in March 1987 and in October 2003 was involved in an on-duty car accident in which she broke her neck, leaving her with permanent work restrictions, the suit filed in February 2021 stated.
In December 2018, due to requests by her colleagues, she called the Los Angeles Police Protective League, the union representing the department’s rank-and-file officers, to inquire about an LAPD special order stating that officers injured on duty after 2006 who could not return to work after 60 days would be “removed” from the department and get their pension, the suit stated.
In response, a captain admonished her about making the call, saying, “Don’t ever call the league again,” the suit stated. On another occasion, Simpson heard the same captain say she had nearly 80 officers on light-duty status and that she needed to “get them off her books,” according to the suit.
Shortly thereafter, Simpson complained about the captain’s alleged remark to the LAPD’s inspector general, prompting an Internal Affairs Division investigation to begin, according to the suit.
In March 2019, in alleged retaliation for Simpson’s participation in protected activity, a lieutenant who reported to the captain and was Simpson’s direct supervisor began giving the plaintiff “dirty looks” and falsely accused Simpson of hazing officers, the suit stated.
After returning from vacation in May 2019, Simpson was forced to work on a Sunday despite having long ago filed paperwork allowing her to avoid working weekends so she could care for a family member, the suit stated. That same month, Simpson was hurt again on duty and the same captain assigned her to a front desk position that did not accommodate her medical restrictions, according to the suit.
In November 2020, Simpson was off duty when she was involved in an incident when a motorcyclist, after claiming she cut him off, punched her twice in the chest, the suit stated. Simpson got her gun and held it low while the motorcyclist kicked one of her side view mirrors and damaged other parts of her vehicle, according to her suit.
Simpson called the police, but refused to be interviewed by Internal Affairs until her attorney was present, according to the suit, which further alleges that the captain retaliated by taking away her handgun and relieving her from duty. An Internal Affairs investigation for possible assault with a deadly weapon was initiated, the suit stated.
“I believe the confiscation of my gun was retaliatory,” Simpson said in a sworn declaration in which she described herself as a “Caucasian, openly gay female officer.”
During the investigation, the motorcyclist alleged that Simpson made an ethnic slur, which she denies, according to her declaration.
“Two witnesses explained to Internal Affairs that the only time there was a reference to ethnicity was when I was asked about the ethnicity of the suspect,” Simpson said.
The stress from the ongoing alleged discrimination and retaliation left Simpson unable to bear the conditions and her health suffered, the suit stated.
Simpson has suffered losses in earnings and other employment benefits as well as damage to her professional reputation, she claimed in the suit.