Officers claim their colleagues mocked their Asian accents.
Five Asian American police officers are suing the San Gabriel Police Department after experiencing discrimination and racism.
Los Angeles Times reports the officers were subjected to widespread discrimination, a hostile work culture and managers who used racial slurs and discriminated against them when promoting.
Their managers allegedly passed over them for promotions up to three times in favour for non-Asian colleagues who had less training and experience.
The lawsuit adds that education requirements for promotion were relaxed in order to promote non-Asian officers. Another police agency is investigating at least one employee.
Colleagues allegedly harassed the officers, mocking their Asian accents and using slurs and comments related to stereotypes. Asian plaintiffs endure degrading comments from other officers about “their people” being bad drivers when a car crash occurs in the city.
In one example presented by the lawsuit, plaintiff Nhat Huynh was teased by managers about how a dog was afraid of being eaten due to Huynh’s Vietnamese culture.
The lawsuit identified a captain and three lieutenants who “regularly participate in this harassing behavior.” It described the behaviour of other officers as dehumanizing and humiliating toward Asian people.
Korean American plaintiff Sunny Kim said the harassment was so incessant that he left the agency. Kim was denied a promotion in 2014 and 2016. He complained to management in October 2016 after hearing another officer using the N-word. The lawsuit alleged that the chief of police threatened to fire Kim if he told anyone else about the incident.
The lawsuit adds that only 7 of the agency’s roughly 50 officers are of Asian descent in a city, even though 60% of residents are Asian. The last time an Asian American officer was hired was in 2007.