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Ronald Crump’s Victory Over Workplace Retaliation
Workplace discrimination against LGBT Americans is not only a problem in certain parts of the United States. It happens everywhere, including liberal cities like Los Angeles, California.
Sergeant Ronald Crump – an openly gay police officer – works for the Los Angeles Police Department. Beginning several years ago, his supervisor – Lieutenant John Romero – created a hostile work environment by constantly harassing and humiliating Crump because of his sexual orientation. For example, Romero told Crump, “I was a religion major at Liberty University —Jerry Falwell would roll over in his grave if he knew I hired you.” Falwell founded the conservative religious university and previously helped Anita Bryant to launch the 1970’s movement to enshrine discrimination against LGBT Americans into law.
Romero continued to subject Crump to nearly constant harassment on account of his sexual orientation, including introducing Crump to new co-workers as “the new Ruby [Crump’s female predecessor]—the only difference is that he doesn’t wear heels.” When Crump told Romero that he did not appreciate being referred to as the “new Ruby,” Romero told him to “get over it” and chuckled as he walked away.
Romero made derogatory comments about other gay LAPD employees as well, calling one a “quirky, effeminate guy,” and saying about another, “She’s a militant, ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ activist lesbian.”
After enduring continuous harassment for some time, Sergeant Crump complained to Romero’s boss. When Romero found out about the complaint, he screamed at Crump and threatened him. Romero told Crump, “Don’t forget I hired you even though you’re gay.”
After that, Romero increasingly began to treat Crump with hostility. Therefore, in April 2009, Crump formally complained about Romero to the LAPD. The retaliation only got worse from there – Romero first threatened to fire Crump, but instead transferred him to another division where he would have fewer opportunities to advance his career.
Crump could have given up, but instead he decided to fight for his freedom to work without harassment and retaliation. He sued the LAPD over this retaliatory transfer, and after a lengthy trial, a jury of his peers awarded him a 1.16 million dollar verdict. After the trial had concluded, many of the jurors thanked Sergeant Crump creating accountability and “leading cops.”
Crump recently reflected on his decision to fight for the freedom to work without retaliation at the LAPD:
“It was a great dilemma to sue the organization I admire. But my management’s gross decisions adversely affected me and it needed to be challenged – not only for me but all the employees that have been affected similarly. Despite this incident, I still find it a great honor to be LAPD and a contribution to society. I had to trust the justice system and my faith in my actions and failure to waiver in my decisions proved well for equal employment opportunities.”
Ronald Crump was able to win his battle for workplace fairness because California bans discrimination based on sexual orientation. But a majority of states do not. By sharing his story here, and as part of the Freedom to Work Speakers Bureau, Ronald Crump is continuing his leadership as we educate Americans about the need for the Employment Non-Discrimination Act.