A jury in downtown Los Angeles found in favor Tuesday of four employees of the Beverly Hills Police Department, who said they faced harassment at work after the police chief was allegedly heard making insensitive remarks about Catholics, Hispanics, Jews, and lesbians.
The employees, which include three lieutenants and another supervisor, sued after some testified in support of a former captain, who settled a discrimination lawsuit against the city and police Chief Sandra Spagnoli last year.
The city has denied any wrongdoing and issued a statement saying, "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."
The case is one of at least a half-dozen lawsuits filed by police employees against the city and the Chief. The jury awarded Lt. Renato Moreno $350,000 and lieutenants Shan Davis and Michael Foxen $250,000 each. An evidence and communications supervisor, Donna Norris, was also awarded $250,000.
A statement from the Beverly Hills City Attorney last year said the city was "deeply disappointed by the personal attacks on the integrity of our police department."
The lawsuits were filed after Spagnoli was hired. Beverly Hills settled the first of the employee lawsuits when it agreed to pay $2.3 million to former Capt. Mark Rosen.
Among the other cases moving toward trial: a lawsuit filed by Officer Anne Marie Lunsman, who said she missed out on promotions and special assignments as a result of an alleged "hostile work environment."
Lunsman claimed she was passed over because of her gender, age, race, and religion. Another was filed by Sgt. David Tomlin, who said he was denied access to review an internal affairs investigation file, that he said had cleared him of wrongdoing.
A third lawsuit was filed by a police department parking enforcement supervisor, Gregory Routt, who said he was the victim of racial discrimination. Another was filed by a civilian police business manager, Tania Schwartz, who said she was marginalized and lost merit pay after she warned Spagnoli about the irresponsible use of public money.