Los Angeles County Ordered to Pay Police Officers $100 Million
Los Angeles County was ordered to pay the largest settlement in its history for racial and gender discrimination against a group of more than 500 police officers that patrol hospitals, parks and other facilities. As members of the county’s Office of Public Safety, the predominantly Latino, Asian and African-American department alleged that they were paid less for doing the same work than the Sheriff’s Department – which is largely Caucasian. The Feminist Majority Foundation’s National Women in Policing Center, which has been involved in the suit since the beginning, applauds Superior Court Judge Victor Chavez for requiring the county to pay a record $100 million.
“These officers are finally getting the justice they deserve,” said Eleanor Smeal, president of the Feminist Majority Foundation.
The county will be required to pay about $100 million in back pay and upgraded pensions as well as another $140 million over the next 25 years in increased salaries. The county plans to appeal the decision. However, if the appeal fails they could disband the department, county supervisors announced Thursday. “Quite frankly, this is really irresponsible and another public policy decision being made, not on public safety or what’s best for the citizens, but just a knee-jerk reaction to being told they’re not getting their way,” Attorney Patricia Bellasalma told the Los Angeles Times in reaction to Thursday’s announcement. “If they did that, it would be just to get rid of officers they do not want to pay. It would be another instance of showing their preference for a majority Caucasian Sheriff’s Department.”
During a two-week trial that ended June 6, the officers told a jury how they battled street gangs, restrained often-violent psychiatric patients and lost six officers in the line of duty. However, they were compensated more like security guards than police – with salaries beginning at about $30,000, compared to $42,000 for Sheriff’s deputies. In addition, these officers do not receive safety retirement and their families are not taken care of in the event of a death in the line of duty.
Media Resources: Los Angeles Times 6/7/02; 6/19/02; 6/20/02
8/28/2015 Alaska Court Protects Abortion Access for Low-Income Women - The Alaska Superior Court struck down a state law yesterday that would have severely limited abortion access for low-income women in Alaska.
The state's Superior Court also struck down a Department of Health and Social Services regulation that placed narrow specifications on Medicaid coverage for abortions, requiring that Medicaid-funded abortions be determined by a physician to be "medically necessary." Last year, the Center for Reproductive Rights, the American Civil Liberties Union, and Planned Parenthood sued on behalf of the Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest, claiming that the narrow definition of "medically necessary" arbitrarily established conditions designed to restrict the ability of low-income women to access abortion services.
The law was temporarily blocked last July by an Alaskan state court judge.
Superior Court Judge John Suddock ordered yesterday that the state be blocked from implementing this regulation, ruling that it placed an undue burden on low-income women seeking abortion services in Alaska.
"By providing health care to all poor Alaskans except women who need abortions, the challenged regulation violates the state constitutional guarantee of 'equal rights, opportunities, and protection under the law'," the ruling read.
"We applaud the superior court for striing down these cruel restrictions on women's health and rights that violate the Alaska Constitution," said Chris Charbonneau, CEO of Planned Parenthood of the Great Northwest and the Hawaiian Islands. . . .
8/26/2015 Saudi Women Prepare to Vote for the First Time - The fight for gender equality is making slow but notable progress in Saudi Arabia, where women will be allowed to vote for the first time in upcoming December elections.
This shift in Saudi law came in 2011, when a royal decree announced that women would be allowed to vote and run in local elections beginning in December of 2015. . . .