An Orange County, California jury has
awarded a Newport Beach sergeant $1.2 million from charges the police
department failed to promote him over false rumors that he was gay,
reports the OC Weekly.
Harvey, a 27-year police force veteran
who was repeatedly denied a promotion to lieutenant, languished as a
sergeant for 18 years.
City employees testified that rumors
had circulated about Harvey's sexual preference for years.
“They weren't going to give [Sgt.
Neil Harvey] the position because he wasn't quite the manly man they
were,” Harvey's lawyer John Girardi told the jury. “If anyone
had taken the time to get beyond the slur, they would have found they
had an asset.”
In its defense, the city claimed Harvey
was not promoted because he lacked leadership.
“The fact is that he was just not
ready to be a lieutenant,” James J. McDonald Jr. said in defending
the police dept. “He doesn't have the leadership skills. The best
of the best are chosen.”
“What is it like to show up everyday
at work and be the object of scorn, have people behind your back call
you a fag,” said Girardi. “That didn't happen for days or
months. It occurred for years and it was widespread.”
Harvey, at 48, remained unmarried and
once lived in gay-friendly Laguna Beach.
After the unanimous decision was
announced, Harvey approached a group of jurors and thanked them.
When asked what he would do next, Harvey replied: “I'm going back
to work tomorrow.”