A Los Angeles employee has won $1.2 million court case after claiming racial discrimination. According to the man — a Los Angeles police officer — employee laws were broken starting in 2009. The man claimed that members of his police unit discriminated against him on the basis of his race. The man is African American.

The man claimed that his image was used in a discriminatory way and hung around the man’s department. Furthermore, the man says that in Nov. 2009 he celebrated 20 years with the police department. On top of his anniversary cake was a slice of watermelon and a fried chicken leg. Finally, the man claims that he waited several months to report these incidents because he was afraid that we would face retaliation by members of the department.

As a result of these incidents, the man says that he needed to be hospitalized. He missed seven months of work and suffered from anxiety and stress.

While the police department claimed that no racial harassment took place, the court sided with the police officer. He was awarded $600,000 for future economic damages and $600,000 for past damages.

Under California and federal employment laws, employees have the right to be free from discrimination based on race at work. Employers who either sanction discrimination or fail to stop discrimination, like the police department in this case, can be held liable for damages. Furthermore, these laws not only prevent racial discrimination but workplace discrimination based on other factors including gender, sexual orientation, national origin and religion is also not permitted. Employees do not have to suffer discrimination and should know their legal rights.

Source: KTVU, “Black LAPD officer wins $1.2M discrimination suit,” Tami Abdollah, March 26, 2013