A gay former West Covina police officer of Chinese descent is suing the city, alleging management did nothing when colleagues called him “Wuhan” after the breakout of the coronavirus in 2020 and also made derogatory remarks about his sexual orientation.
Christopher T. Huynh’s Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit alleges discrimination, harassment and retaliation. He seeks unspecified damages. West Covina City Attorney Thomas P. Duarte did not immediately reply to an email request for comment on the suit brought Thursday.
A seafood market in Wuhan, China, is believed by many to be the early epicenter of the COVID-19 pandemic. Officers began calling Huynh “Wuhan” in March 2020, according to the suit, which further states they uttered offensive comments both about food that Asians eat and the plaintiff’s status as a gay man.
“Despite command staff being present and hearing the … comments being directed towards plaintiff and others, nothing was done to curtail the harassing conduct,” the suit alleges.
Protests by Huynh and two sergeants regarding the alleged offensive conduct by the other officers fell “on deaf ears,” according to the suit. Instead, management retaliated against Huynh by subjecting him to unwarranted scrutiny, denying him a pay increase and ultimately firing him due to alleged dishonesty, the suit states.
Huynh, who once was used by the WCPD to interpret for Cantonese speakers, was humiliated by the alleged conduct toward him by fellow officers and remains upset, distressed and aggravated, the suit states.