LAPD Officer Wins $1.2-million Verdict in Racial Harassment Suit

Joel Rubin, Los Angeles Times, March 26, 2013

A jury Tuesday ordered the city of Los Angeles to pay $1.2 million to a black police officer who alleged he was the butt of vulgar racial harassment by a white supervisor and other officers.

In his lawsuit, Earl Wright, who joined the department in 1989, accused the supervisor, Sgt. Peter Foster, and a handful of officers of carrying out racial pranks and making comments that left him “embarrassed and humiliated.”

In one instance, the lawsuit claimed, Wright asked Foster for permission to leave work early and Foster, who is white, responded, “Why? You gotta go pick watermelons?”

In another incident, Foster summoned Wright and his partner back in to the station from the field to celebrate Wright’s 20th year of service as an LAPD officer. With officers laughing and applauding, the lawsuit claimed, Foster then presented Wright with a cake that was topped with a piece of fried chicken and a slice of watermelon.

Wright said in court documents that supervisors throughout the Central Division station where he and Foster worked, including the captain who ran the division at the time, were aware of the crass behavior and did not stop it.


During the four-day trial, however, lawyers for the city tried to portray Wright not as a victim, but as a willing participant.

For example, Officer Randall McCain, who is black, testified that it was he, not Foster, who bought and presented the cake to Wright.

In an interview, McCain reiterated what he said at the trial–that Wright laughed when he saw the cake, cut himself a slice, and ate the chicken topping.

He and Wright, McCain said, were part of a group of officers at Central Division who routinely traded crude racial text messages and comments.

“I have known Earl Wright for 15, 16 years; we worked together for the past five. And Earl Wright has joked, pulled pranks and talked about other races in a joking way just like the rest of us,” McCain said. “Everything this guy is claiming was done to him, he did himself. He lied about the way he was feeling.”


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  • pcmustgo

    If that did happen, the white supervisors shouldn’t have been joking. People just shouldn’t talk about race and politics at work.

    I met a white firefighter from NJ who confided in me he tells racial jokes to his black co-workers, and they do the same back to him , I guess. While I didn’t mind that he wasn’t PC about the behavior of blacks, he really shouldn’t be doing that, even for his own sake. I can’t imagine why someone would think that’s OK or a smart thing to do at work, considering they could lose their job. He seemed to see the acceptance of telling racial jokes at work as a sign of intimacy between him and his black co-workers who no longer sue the department so much…

    • RHG

      I agree, I worked in the same type of environment where white guys and black guys made racial jokes back in force. I never chimed in because I knew the minute there was an issue, i.e “layoff” the black guys would immediately start portraying themselves as “victims of white harassment”.

    • MBlanc46

      You really do need to be careful about this sort of thing. It can really come back to bite you.

      • Anders

        That’s right. Remember that one day, whenever a ‘minority’ wants to feel offended it’s a simple case of ‘because they can’. I knew someone that got fired for allegedly making fun of a homosexual. He said they traded mock insults for months. The homo took offense one day and complained to the manager. My friend was fired that very morning.

    • Michael_C_Scott

      That sort of thing certainly isn’t very bright; it isn’t exactly a secret that affirmative action hires are also lawsuit-happy. What’s the risk? That’s easy: your boss becomes angry he’s being sued, so you get fired, you miss mortgage payments and then you get foreclosed and lose your home equity. After that, it gets even better: your wife files for divorce, moves your kids back to her parents halfway across the country and you end up sleeping on your friend’s sofa while hoping the repo man won’t find your car.

      It’s better to just save the jokes for people you don’t work with.

  • This sounds a lot more like group camaraderie bonding rituals than harassment.

    • dhs

      That’s why the Feminists want to stop it.

      • Paleoconn

        Feminists suffer from chronic, agonizing, obsessive penis- and testicle-envy.

      • The__Bobster

        At my company, these man-hating lesbians actually demanded that upper management open every locker in the men’s locker room because they heard that there were pinup pictures of women inside them. They were jealous because they didn’t look like pinups themselves.

        • PesachPatriot

          seriously? that is ridiculous….thats not sexual harassment….no woman would be in the men’s locker room anyway….you’d think the lesbians would want pictures of attractive females everywhere. Are the pinup pictures making improper advances to the lesbians or something?

          • Michael_C_Scott

            That’s pretty tame stuff from them. I was an undergrad at UC Santa Cruz from 1984-1989; and the ones we had there were complete lunatics. The real fringe elements were also invariably communist vegetarians. Typical beliefs were that all heterosexual intercourse is rape and that eating meat is a form of racism.

          • Anders

            I’ve come across and even been rather friendly with quite a few ‘ex-vegetarian females’ over the years.

          • PesachPatriot

            How can eating meat be racism? cows,pigs,chickens and fish are animals,not people…one can only be racist against races of people….also how is consensual heterosexual intercourse rape? that means everyone alive today is the product of rape i suppose….I guess they call it the land of fruits and nuts for a reason.

  • a multiracial individual

    Did he ever say, “ok seriously guys, Im not cool with this stuff.” or did he laugh? I think if he did the former, the white officers would have dropped the joking immediately.

    • betsy

      I think we need to realize that there isn’t any ‘bonding’ or deep friendships with those people ——– regardless of how you think you have a lot of close black friends……………. you do not!

      • Michael_C_Scott

        I once explained the same phenomenon when it came to people who use hard drugs; they don’t have any friends. They only have people they use drugs with.

        The problem for us is that due to affirmative action, it is very difficult to avoid working with them, no matter how much we would like to.

  • “Why? You gotta go pick watermelons?”

    When I was a kid batboying for a local college baseball team, one of the players said of an opposing pitcher’s throw “Look, he’s throwing his watermelon ball”. The coach was not happy about the comment to say the least, meanwhile I was getting laugh cramps.

    • I played baseball in HS. I did a lot of rear end slapping and had a lot of it done to me. But that doesn’t mean I should stand on a corner and slap the rear end of every man that walks by. The act on a sports team means something different than the same act in the rest of civil society. Duck-taping a rookie to the goal post is a team bonding ritual, chaining a random person to a street light is false imprisonment. Likewise, watermelon and fried chicken topped cakes, even if you want to concede that they’re some sort of racial harassment in general society, (and I don’t), are definitely not within the context of the “team” of cops.

  • JackKrak

    No word in the original article of when this “happened” or when the lawsuit was filed, but I’m wondering how a guy on the force since 1989 – 24 years ago – is outranked by a sargeant.

    • Michael_C_Scott

      I’m going to guess he was continually passed up for promotion because he was a complete imbecile.

      • He should have moved to Detroit and become the Superintendant of Schools (my spelling sucks). Google “Edukation Be Good in Detroit”.

        • Michael_C_Scott

          There was an article here about that superintendent. Can you imagine that guy writing a police report? It would be worthless as evidence.

  • Katherine McChesney

    “I have known Earl Wright for 15, 16 years; we worked together for the
    past five. And Earl Wright has joked, pulled pranks and talked about
    other races in a joking way just like the rest of us,” McCain said.
    “Everything this guy is claiming was done to him, he did himself. He
    lied about the way he was feeling.”

    Enough said. Blacks will lie if it will help them extort money from Whites.

    • The__Bobster

      Just another grievance collector. Since this one got paid off, maybe he won’t go on a shooting spree.

      • Michael_C_Scott

        I wouldn’t bet on it; O.J. Simpson was very wealthy and he carved two people to bloody rags.

    • Anders

      One of his black colleagues told the court he lied; yet he still gets a nice pay out.
      The streets over there must be paved with gold after all.

      • Who makes these decisions. It seems insane. How is one awarded millions of dollars for such a thing. America has gone down the toilet. Remember the woman who made three million dollars off of McDonalds because of hot coffe she spilt on herself. That case should have been thrown out of court. Greed has brought this country down so far. Don’t people remember the 7 deadly sins?

        • brengunn

          If I was a white cop with a black partner and we were both due to retire, it would be tempting to run a little scam, leaving us set for life. I provide the jocular racial insults, he takes the PD to court, we both get $500 grand each as a golden handshake. Pretty good scam, if you were that way inclined.

        • Bill

          He’ll waste it away in four months too. Either that, or invest it in street drugs for resale. I am sick and tired of blacks claiming how sensitive they are, yet ALL of them close ranks and lie for a brother who has just shot a baby asleep in a stroller. Sensitive? Really? Back in the day of Jim Crow they seemed to be able to handle it, and were FAR FAR more well behaved into the bargain. Better to have them with hurt feelings, than to have them on the street physically hurting and murdering others like a plague unleashed.

    • Reggie

      Yeah right. you probably do not know any black people but the maids that worked for your parents when you were younger.

      • pcmustgo

        I’ve known MANY blacks in life, including some I stupidly considered “friends”. I’ve known dozens of Blacks in life. And no, my parents had a Latina maid…

      • Greg Thomas

        Why would any self respecting White hire a lazy black maid, when we can hire a “wise latina.”

    • Liz Betbeze

      I didn’t see the part where it filed a complaint to HR. With only six jurors needed in some areas it is just an easy payday.

  • bigone4u

    This decision is wrong on so many levels. The sum of money awarded is excessive. How much psychiatric help has the “victim” paid for to overcome the damage to his self-esteem? Why was testimony that he told racist jokes ignored by the court? How will the cops blow off steam now? Drugs and alchohol? Authentic interactions that relieve tension are healty for people in dangerous, high stress jobs. Since the black cop plantiff also participated in making racial jokes, I can only hope HIS VICTIMS sue him and wrest away the million bucks he’s collecting!

    • The__Bobster

      I got trapped in the Small World ride 20 years ago. I’m working on a $8000 lawsuit due to the trauma I suffered.

      30 long minutes of incessant multi-culti singing? Arghhh!

      • dukem1

        Bobster – this one’s for you:
        “It’s a small world after all.It’s a small world after all………”

    • Bon, From the Land of Babble

      When Tinnie Pierce won a $1.5 million dollar settlement for eating two bites of dog food in 2004, this is what happened to his superiors:

      Arevalo got a six-day suspension, Burton 30 days and Tohill 25 days. The captains also were fined $10,000 each. They sued, claiming they were discriminated against on the basis of race and won every appeal, including two to the state Supreme Court.

      Can you guess that Burton and Tohill are White? They wondered why Arvealo got “only” six days and they got 30 and 25 respectively.

      Stay tuned:

      They (Burton and Tohill) offered to settle for $250,000 each but the city, represented by private lawyers because the City Attorney’s office is inherently conflicted when city employees sue, turned them down.

      And so it came before the City Council to approve paying Burton $592,000 and Tohill, the senior caption, $1.052 million.

      Every once in a while, the universe rights itself and there is justice for Whites.


  • Paleoconn

    The world is upside down where a person (an adult) can claim hurt feelings and hit the lottery jackpot at honest, hard-working taxpayers’ expense. And this payola would never happen by the way, if the races were reversed. Enoch Powell’s constituent was right: the black man has the whip hand over the White man.

    • The__Bobster

      When I read the title of the article, I was hoping that the races were reversed.

    • betsy

      high up in our system, it has been decided to make these payouts —
      see the pickford farm thing plus all these faux cases……
      like an illegal being dealt with by the local law officers……… they wont touch them……
      you ever see one get a ticket? how can they with no license…….
      ever hear of one getting in trouble for no license?
      only after the heinous crime happens do you hear of any enforcement.

  • Diamond_Lil

    Come on, Earl, you know you LOVE watermelon and fried chicken.

  • sbuffalonative

    This is exactly why I have as little contact with blacks at work as possible. The more you’re around blacks, the greater the chances of you saying something ‘offensive’ to them or them perceiving something you said as offensive.

    As much as I see this as male bonding, Sgt. Foster should have been aware that his comments spoken, even spoken in jest, were a target on his back.

  • RHG

    No doubt the guy is retiring and wants to live in style now. And the truth doesn’t matter in California as we saw with OJ Simpson, if you are black and you have a little position of standing there then other blacks sitting in judgement will award you things.

    • Bon, From the Land of Babble

      You got that exactly right. He put up with “racial harassment” for 20 years and is just now coming forward??

      He’s close to retirement and this is a way for him to go out early with a fat cash settlement — like Rin Tin Tinney Pierce, the LAFD idiot who got $1.5 million for eating two bites of dog food.

      Expect a LOT more of this, expect Hispanics and Asians to join in on the racial harassment bandwagon, expect the lame LA City Council to roll over every time.

      Nice work if you can get it.


      • Can he put some of that money in his pension account in California like they can in Chicago to double or triple their pension?

        Beavers also is accused of failing to declare nearly $69,000 in campaign money he put into a city fund as a way to double the pension he got for his years as an alderman — from $2,900 to $6,500, Cole told jurors.

      • Michael_C_Scott

        Two bites of dog food? For $1.5 million I’d scarf down 50 pounds of dry kibble with a smile on my face. I imagine I could finish the bag in six weeks. It’d probably leave my eyes bright and my coat shiny! Compared with the glop that goes into fast food and frozen convenience food, I suspect even canned Alpo is top-notch chow.

        One of my friends once ate half a can of dog food. His new family dog was small, and only got a half can. The rest went into Tupperware to be saved for a few days later (I think his dog got kibble on alternate days.) He misidentified the dog food as deviled ham and ate it all on crackers. He said it was good, and that his wife should get that brand again. We never told him.

        I recall reading once that most of the canned cat food sold in the United States is eaten by humans; it’s just cheaper grades of the same chicken and fish that go into cans intended for people.

        $1.5 million? Some folks have all the luck. The problem with these settlements is what happens as California continues to fall farther into insolvency. Eventually there just won’t be the money for this nonsense.

  • LHathaway

    Women are from Venus. Men are from Mars. The LAPD must be from Jupiter. As whites are now a small minority in LA, how could the trained members of the LAPD, of all people, know not to ‘offend’ women or people of color in any possible way?

  • Chatty Kathy

    Whites have been extorting blacks for 400 years !! This is karmic justice. Deal with it. I hope every black guy in this country sues for discrimination and racism and wins millions.

    • sbuffalonative

      Feel free to sign over your paycheck to any black you meet or offend.

    • Michael_C_Scott

      Where’s the money going to come from? Do you plan on holding down a second job in order to pay the higher taxes and higher insurance rates?

  • brengunn

    Every black employee is a potential case like this. And not just blacks, anyone who’s not a straight white male could go for that golden hand shake.