A former officer has received $2.2 million in settlements after suing the California Highway Patrol for the homophobic abuse he endured from his co-workers for around two decades.
Jay Brome worked as a Highway Patrol Officer from 1996 to 2015 but endured homophobic abuse since entering the police academy.
In an interview with The Sacramento Bee in 2018, Brome said a fellow cadet at the academy made him come out by pointing a gun at him and saying “I know you’re gay, tell me you’re gay or I’ll pull the trigger.”
Homophobic Abuse Took Its Toll
In 2013, Brome won officer of the year, but instead of being celebrated by his peers, he endured more homophobic attacks and his photo was not even put on display amongst the other winners.
Fellow officers would also refuse to answer Brome’s calls when he asked for backup in dangerous situations.
“I’d work my full shift and not see another officer. This was an office of 30-40 people. It got to be too much. It’s all these things that triggered it,” Brome said in an interview with The Bayside Area Reporter.
The abuse took such a toll on the former police officer that he had to take medical leave in 2015 due to the stress the homophobic work environment was causing him. Brome said that he even contemplated suicide.
In September 2016, Brome filed a lawsuit against the California Highway Patrol. A Solano County Superior Court judge initially threw out the case, ruling that it was filed after the statute of limitations had expired. In an unanimous decision in January 2020, the California Court of Appeal for the First District reversed the dismissal and allowed the case to proceed.
Just before the case was set to go to court, the California Highway Patrol and Brome’s legal team agreed on a settlement in July.
“I feel that I won justice,” Brome said to The Sacramento Bee.
‘$ 2.2 Million Sends A Signal’
While he was at the California Highway patrol, Brome did file multiple discrimination complaints against one officer, Steve Ramos. Instead of taking action against Ramos, the police department promoted him three times and he is now the assistant chief.
“The department refused to address the problem. The response was always ‘protect the department’,” he said.
One of Brome’s lawyers Gay Grunfeld said it was “shocking” that the CHP still does not have an ombudsman or support group aimed at helping officers in the LGBTQ community.
“I feel the $2.2 million sends a signal to the CHP that it needs to improve its investigations of employment discrimination allegations to hold more people accountable.”
For 24 hour crisis support and suicide prevention call Lifeline on 13 11 14
For Australia-wide LGBTQI peer support call QLife on 1800 184 527 or webchat.