LAPD Sued Over Alleged Religious Discrimination

An LAPD sergeant says that he was punished with disciplinary action and denied numerous pay raises and promotions because of his religious objections to homosexuality, according to a lawsuit recently filed against the city of Los Angeles.

Sgt. Eric Holyfield, who is a pastor during his off-duty hours, was quoted as saying that homosexuality was a "sin" and an "abomination" while presiding over a 2006 eulogy for a friend and fellow police officer.

The remarks subsequently drew complaints from other police officers, including Deputy Chief Charlie Beck, who said it was the first time among hundreds of other occasions where police officers spoke that he felt the need to initiate a complaint.

Cmdr. Stuart Maislin, head of LAPD's risk-management office explained that while the LAPD cannot usually dictate the speech of its police officers, the department had a responsibility in "treating everybody with respect."

"We are concerned, clearly, about the type of speech our employees engage in," he told the Los Angeles Times.

In his suit, however, Holyfield has claimed punitive damages because of what he said was mental and physical stress due to the violation of his First Amendment rights to freedom of speech and what he said was his right to quote biblical objections to homosexuality.

The LAPD has "historically discriminated ... and continues to discriminate against officers that cite from the Holy Bible," Holyfield's suit reads.