In what has been called a “momentous” decision, the Los Angeles City Council voted unanimously last week to approve settlement of the non-damages portion of a lawsuit brought by former Sergeant Mitchell Grobeson, the LAPD’s first openly gay officer.

The settlement provides a vast array of protections for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) employees and job applicants in Los Angeles, as well as those living with HIV.

It mandates recruitment from the LGBT community and strengthens the city’s anti-discrimination policies by writing them into the city’s administrative code.

“This is a landmark settlement,” Jon W. Davidson, legal director of Lambda Legal, America’s oldest LGBT legal advocacy organisation, and author of much of the administrative code adopted by the L.A. City Council, said in a release.

“It makes the city of Los Angeles a national leader in safeguarding employees against discrimination and harassment based on sexual orientation or HIV status.

“And, once again, Sgt Grobeson has proven himself a hero.

“Having dedicated his career to protecting and serving L.A.’s residents as a member of the LAPD, his more than decade-long fight against discrimination again has served the city well, protecting it and its more than 50,000 workers against improper job bias.”

Last week’s settlement supersedes Grobeson’s groundbreaking 1993 settlement, which required the city and the LAPD to halt discriminatory practices targeting gay and lesbian employees and applicants.

“After waiting for more than a decade, I am incredibly grateful for the actions of the current city council,” Grobeson said in a release.

“I am glad that Chief (William) Bratton has brought his progressive vision to the city of Los Angeles, and is once again bringing the LAPD to the forefront of professional law enforcement.”

Grobeson added that the settlement would improve the quality of life for all residents of the city, by allowing the best police officers and applicants to serve, regardless of their sexual orientation.

Bert Voorhees, of the Pasadena-based law firm Traber Voorhees, which has acted as Grobeson’s lead attorneys, said the fight is not yet over.

“While I agree that today’s vote is a very significant step forward for Los Angeles as a city, the job is only half done,” he said.

“The LAPD continues to retaliate against Sgt Grobeson by repeatedly refusing to reinstate him.”

Voorhees also said that on November 13th, the city will begin spending millions of taxpayer dollars at trial, a trial which could be avoided by simply reinstating Grobeson or allowing him to retire honorably.

Voorhees pointed out that Grobeson was one of the LAPD’s finest officers, graduating number one from the L.A. Police Academy, receiving dozens of commendations from the city council and public and earning praise from past LAPD management.

“In less than two weeks, rather than allow this fine officer to return to work or to retire honorably,” Voorhees said, “the taxpayers of Los Angeles will be forced to pay for an expensive trial which will accomplish nothing more than to once again expose the anti-gay bias and retaliatory sentiments that used to rule mid- to upper-level LAPD management.”

Chrys Hudson © 2007 GayWired.com; All Rights Reserved.