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LAPD lieutenant awarded $4.3 million in discrimination lawsuit against department

Lou Vince smiles wearing a coat and tie and sitting in front of a microphone
The LAPD’s Lou Vince, shown at a candidates forum during the 2014 primary election for L.A. County sheriff, filed a discrimination lawsuit against the department in 2018.
(Anne Cusack / Los Angeles Times)
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Los Angeles Police Lt. Lou Vince was awarded $4.3 million on Monday by a jury in a discrimination lawsuit he filed against the department in 2018.

In the lawsuit, Vince said he was pressured to return to work after an injury and back surgery and upon his early return was not given accommodations, forced to work undesirable shifts and harassed.

“Instead of the City of Los Angeles performing their legal duty to protect Lou from retaliation and harassment and provide reasonable accommodations for his disability, they allowed significant, long-term damage to his professional reputation and personal health,” attorney Matthew McNicholas said in a release. McNicholas also serves as panel counsel to the Los Angeles Police Protective League, the union that represents rank-and-file officers in the LAPD.

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Vince joined the department in 1995. He is an Agua Dulce town council member and in 2015 ran unsuccessfully as a Democrat for the 25th District House seat.

According to the complaint filed in Los Angeles County Superior Court in 2018, Vince suffered a back injury that required spinal fusion surgery in early 2015.

An LAPD captain began calling Vince “shortly after” the surgery and through June 2015, “asking him to return to work despite [Vince] being off ... and having turned in all required doctor’s notes indicating he would be out for several more months,” according to the complaint.

After an email exchange between a teacher and district curriculum advisor was posted online, the teacher said she received violent threats.

May 11, 2022

Vince was cleared to return to work early in an administrative position with restrictions against working in physically demanding assignments.

But, according to the complaint, the captain “refused to accommodate [Vince] with these restrictions.”

Vince was then passed over for an assignment that he was “promised” and that would have better accommodated his work restrictions based on his injury, the lawsuit said. He complained to commanding officers that he was being discriminated against for his condition, according to the complaint and McNicholas.

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“That complaint directly to his commanding officers ... started the whole thing,” McNicholas said.

In the years after, Vince was loaned and transferred to numerous other assignments, according to the complaint. An assistant chief also began keeping a file on Vince, one created outside his official personnel file with emails and other documents, that was eventually destroyed, McNicholas said.

The career of Vince’s wife, also an LAPD officer, was threatened during the process, according to the release.

“This is part of a broader shift in the LAPD to not accommodate people and to force people off the job so that they lighten their restrictions,” McNicholas alleged. “It’s a huge issue right now.”

Rob Wilcox, spokesman for L.A. City Atty. Mike Feuer, said the office was reviewing its options, including an appeal of the award decision.

The LAPD declined to comment Wednesday evening.

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