Los Angeles Police Department Sued for Disability Discrimination

For Immediate Release — April 28, 1999

For Further Information, Please Contact:
Larry A. Minsky, Esq.
Sievers & Minsky Beatrice Burgess
Long Beach, California
(562) 437-7006

Linda D. Kilb, Esq.
Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, Inc. (DREDF)
Berkeley, California
(510) 644-2555

Applicant Who Meets LAPD Standards Denied Job

Los Angeles, California — A lawsuit will be filed on Thursday, April 29, 1999 in state court in Los Angeles against the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD), alleging that the Department has violated employment discrimination laws by denying a job to an applicant with a disability who meets hiring standards set by the LAPD. The suit, which alleges violations of the California Fair Employment and Housing Act (FEHA), will be filed on behalf of named plaintiff Matthew Wayne Christensen. Mr. Christensen is represented by Larry A. Minsky, a Long Beach attorney who specializes in employment discrimination, and by the Berkeley-based Disability Rights Education and Defense Fund, Inc. (DREDF), a national law and policy center dedicated to protecting and advancing the civil rights of persons with disabilities.

Mr. Christensen has worn a left leg prosthesis for over twenty years due to a congenital, below the knee amputation. In June 1997, Mr. Christensen applied to the LAPD to become a police officer. In conjunction with that application process, he passed the LAPD’s entrance requirements, including the physical abilities test (PAT), which the LAPD uses to ensure that each applicant has the necessary endurance, strength, agility and balance to become a police officer. Despite passing the PAT, Mr. Christensen was rejected for employment because he is an amputee.

“I went down to apply for the police department thinking that all I had to do was take what they threw at me, and I would have a job,” says Mr. Christensen, who has safely engaged in a wide variety of physical and athletic activities throughout his life. “In denying me employment, I feel like the City of Los Angeles took a piece of my future—a future that I have earned.”