Los Angeles, CA – Four Los Angeles police officers who were accused of participating in a “blue flu” protest and disciplined for using their accrued sick leave will each receive a $30,000 payout from the city.
All four of the officers who filed the state court lawsuit argued they had legitimate reasons for calling out sick over the weekend of July 4, 2020, which also coincided with an alleged “blue flu” action in which hundreds of Los Angeles police officers called out sick at the same time, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The department said the situation amounted to an illegal labor action intended to send a political message.
The four officers who sued the city said they were swept up in the “blue flu” allegations, resulting in them being unlawfully disciplined and suffering undeserved negative consequences to their careers, the Los Angeles Times reported.
The seemingly unified mass call-out occurred after weeks of anti-police protests and a Los Angeles City Council decision to slash the city’s police budget by $150 million, according to the paper.
It also occurred during a weekend of particularly high gun violence.
Los Angeles police officials said an anonymous letter was circulated among the ranks, calling on officers to coordinate a mass call-out in response to the city defunding police.
“They succeeded in defunding the police; what do you think is next? Our pay? Our benefits? Our pensions? You’re God Damn right all those things are in jeopardy now,” the letter read, according to the Los Angeles Times. “We have to send the city a clear message that we are not expendable and we are not going to take this crap anymore.”
The Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) said any “blue flu” event constitutes an illegal orchestrated labor action and immediately launched an investigation into the mass call-outs.
LAPD officials ultimately filed “action items” against any officer who called out sick during the period in question, regardless of the circumstances of those absences.
Those “action items” are entered into the LAPD’s database and have the potential to follow officers throughout their careers, attorney Matthew McNicholas, one of the attorneys representing the four LAPD officers, told the Los Angeles Times.
As a result, some officers wound up being demoted and losing their income.
“I believe the chief was upset, and this is what he did,” McNicholas told the paper.
The officers’ lawsuit and pushback from the police union eventually led to the LAPD withdrawing the universal disciplinary action, according to McNicholas.
He said the agency had cast “a net that was way, way, way too big,” the Los Angeles Times reported.
The city settled the lawsuit last week, agreeing to pay each of the four officers $30,000.
Courtney McNicholas, another attorney representing the officers, said the judgements are proof her clients did nothing wrong and that they can use them to push back against any potential accusations to the contrary as they continue their careers, the Los Angeles Times reported.
“If at any time this comes back on them — like, ‘Oh, I heard you were a blue fluer,’ things like that, which can happen — they can say: ‘Wrong. I was right. I got a judgment,’” the attorney told the paper.
The LAPD declined to comment on the four judgements, according to the Los Angeles Times.