Jury Awards $1.2 Million to Newport Beach Cop in Employee Rights Case
An Orange County jury recently awarded $1.2 million to a Newport Beach police officer because he endured on the job discrimination based on rumors and gossip that he was gay. According to an article in The Orange County Register, Sgt. Neil Harvey, a 27-year veteran of the department, also faced retaliation for flagging misconduct among his fellow officers and was passed up for promotions because of rumors about his sexual orientation.
Jurors have spoken out in no uncertain terms that they believe the Newport Beach Police Department has serious issues when it comes to treating their employees fairly. What do Harvey’s superiors have to say? They claim that his lack of progress in the department was his own fault – that he alienated his colleagues with his “hypercritical” style. Harvey’s resume includes advanced college education and a top award for bravery. A disturbing image of the Newport Beach Police Department has emerged as Harvey’s civil case against his own department progressed.
Apparently, Harvey endured constant gossip about him being a “fag” and comparisons to Lt. Dangle, a short-shorts-wearing gay officer on Comedy Central’s “Reno 911.” Jurors awarded Harvey $1.2 million for economic damages and enduring mistreatment.
I commend Sgt. Neil Harvey for standing up to the top echelon of his department. It certainly takes a lot of courage and conviction to challenge your superiors in a place that you are employed. In this case, Sgt. Harvey went through experiences no employee should ever have to go through, let alone a veteran police officer who has a commendable record of serving his community. He was apparently teased for being gay when he wasn’t actually gay. News reports also indicate that he was not liked by some in the department because of his style of interaction.
Employees have rights. There is no room for harassment or mistreatment in your workplace simply because of the way people perceive you. It is appalling that members of a police department known for its high degree of professionalism would alienate one of its employees based on rumors and gossip. Sgt. Harvey did the right thing by taking the matter to court, although I can only imagine how stressful and challenging this must have been for him. Nevertheless, this case is a victory for Sgt. Harvey and employee rights. It gives hope to everyone who is facing some form of discrimination, harassment or mistreatment in the workplace.