BEVERLY HILLS─A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge dismissed a lawsuit filed by Lisa Weller, an employee with the Beverly Hills Police Department. According to a press release Canyon News received from Keith Sterling, Public Information Officer for the city of Beverly Hills, the ruling indicates that there was not sufficient evidence for the case to move forward.
Weller alleged she was demoted from Traffic Control Supervisor to the position of Traffic Control Officer because of her age and sexual orientation.
In ruling on the City’s Motion for Summary Judgment, the courts found:
“There is no evidence the plaintiff was replaced in the position of Traffic Control Supervisor by a significantly younger person. The undisputed evidence shows that City of Beverly Hills restructured its traffic and parking departments, and then placed sworn peace officers as supervisors of Traffic Control Officers.”
The Court determined that “plaintiff did not meet her burden to show that there was such a denial [of pay and benefits], let alone that any such denial was due to the plaintiff’s age or sexual orientation.”
“We are pleased with the ruling by Judge Martin,” said City Attorney Laurence S. Wiener. “The City of Beverly Hills believed the case was without merit and remains committed to a respectful work environment free from harassment, retaliation and discrimination.
This is not the first case filed against the BHPD for discrimination or harassment. A Los Angeles jury upheld allegations of harassment and retaliation against Police Chief Sandra Spagnoli of the Beverly Hills Police Department in July 2019.
Spagnoli who was accused by her co-workers of workplace harassment and discrimination was not found guilty of discrimination. The jury did not find any evidence of discrimination against any of the plaintiffs, but determined that Spagnoli’s remarks were of a hostile nature in the Moreno v. City of Beverly Hills case.
After three days of deliberation, the jury awarded Lieutenants Michael Foxen, Shan Davis, Renato Moreno, and a civilian employee named Dona Norris $1.1 million. Lt. Moreno was awarded $350,000 while the other co-plaintiffs were awarded $250,000 each. Originally each plaintiff in the Moreno v. City of Beverly Hills case demanded more than $20 million to be awarded to them.
At least 21 current and former employees filed civil lawsuits or employee complaints against Chief Spagnoli. According to the lawsuit, Spagnoli reacted with disgust when she discovered that Norris was not heterosexual. She asked Lt. Moreno if she should “dress Mexican” for a party he invited her to.
The city of Beverly Hills paid $2.3 million in December 2018 to settle claims made by Captain Mark Rosen. Rosen accused Spagnoli of making anti-Semitic remarks about him and claims she denied him opportunity because of his religion. Both Lt. Foxen and Moreno said they were reprimanded by Spagnoli for giving statements that favored Rosen’s case.
“The City is pleased that the jury found no discrimination against any of the plaintiffs. The City disagrees with the jury’s finding that alleged statements of Police Chief Sandra Spagnoli rose to the level of harassment or retaliation. The City remains committed to the police chief and her efforts to reform the department, and condemns those who are undermining those efforts, as was revealed in the trial.
In a separate matter, the city announced today that it has settled an age discrimination lawsuit brought by Clark Fogg, a member of the staff of the Beverly Hills Police Department’s forensic laboratory. Under the terms of the settlement, Fogg will receive a $300,000 payment and retire from the department.
The City of Beverly Hills remains committed to a BHPD that upholds the highest ideals of fairness, dignity, equality, and provides a positive work environment for all. The City is equally committed to continuing the significant improvements that Chief Spagnoli has brought to the Police Department including the addition of officers, enhancements in training, an increase in diversity, and greater public outreach,” said the city of Beverly Hills in a statement.
Judge Elizabeth R. Feffer of the Los Angeles Superior Court overturned a jury verdict that awarded damages to former Beverly Hills Police Lieutenant, Shan Davis in October 2019. Davis was individually awarded $250,000 by the jury. On October 11, 2019, Judge Feffer ruled that there was no evidence to support the verdict, overruling the jury’s decision. She concluded that Davis did not prevail, would not be awarded any damages, and “a new judgment is entered in favor of the City of Beverly Hills.”
Written By Casey Jacobs, Christianne McCormick and Alondra Arana