LOS ANGELES, CA - The Los Angeles-based plaintiff’s trial law firm McNicholas & McNicholas filed a lawsuit on behalf of a senior security officer against his employer, the Los Angeles Department of Water and Power (“DWP”). The suit alleges that Korean-American Peter Lee was subjected to nonstop harassment, discrimination and retaliation based on his race, while employed with DWP, a utility company notorious for hazing.
“From his first day on the job at DWP in 2010 until present, Mr. Lee has been made to feel like a subhuman being by his co-workers and superiors,” said lead attorney Matthew McNicholas, Partner at McNicholas & McNicholas. “He has been constantly treated unfairly, threatened, ridiculed and verbally abused. The endless berating and emotional battering that he endured, and that DWP condoned, is unconscionable.”
“This is by far one of the most egregious cases of this type of abuse,” said Associate Alyssa Schabloski. “They broke every rule in the book and it is still going on.”
While on the job, Mr. Lee, the only Asian security lieutenant on staff, was the target of unrelenting racial and sexual orientation slurs. He is frequently referred to as a “bitch”, a crooked “Chinaman” and a “homosexual”. His supervisors and co-workers spread vicious rumors, including that he is not qualified to work at DWP, that his hiring at LAPD and the utility were the result of lewd acts he performed on higher ups, that he was a crooked cop, and many other libelous and slanderous claims. Further, a letter forged with Mr. Lee’s signature expressed interest in forming a romantic relationship with a male lieutenant. Mr. Lee was also the target of numerous “dog eating” slurs.
Other forms of abuse included being asked to patrol properties in remote locations (known as “freeway therapy”) where his supervisors knew he would easily become lost for many hours after traveling hundreds of miles. In addition, he was dispatched to life-threatening situations without the proper training, put in an undesirable and particularly dangerous position by being asked to remove homeless people from properties all by himself, laughed at when he inhaled potentially deadly gas, unfairly docked pay for being late to work on one occasion while others who were late were not, and asked to take on far more work than his colleagues. One supervisor commented that he hoped Mr. Lee would “bleed, get hurt and fail.”
Each time Mr. Lee complained about the way he was being treated, whether it was in a written report or in face-to-face meetings with his superiors, including Executive Director Patrick Findley, Mr. Lee’s concerns were met with disdain and apathy.
“Mr. Lee did an excellent job of documenting the long line of abuse,” Mr. McNicholas stated. “Unfortunately, the litany of abuse goes on and on. The evidence is overwhelming to say the least.”
McNicholas & McNicholas, a Los Angeles-based plaintiff’s trial law firm, represents clients in the areas of catastrophic personal injury, employment law, class actions, sexual abuse and other consumer-oriented matters such as civil rights, aviation disasters and product liability. Founded by a family of attorneys spanning three generations, McNicholas & McNicholas has been trying cases to jury verdict on behalf of their clients for more than five decades.