What to Know
- A Beverly Hills Police Department captain said he was stripped of his responsibilities and rank because of his age and religion.
- A jury trial in Mark Rosen's case had been set to begin this week.
- Rosen's case was one of at least 10 lawsuits filed against the city by Beverly Hills Police employees.
A Beverly Hills Police Department Captain who said he was effectively stripped of his responsibilities and rank because of his age and religion -- agreed to settle his lawsuit against the city and its police chief for $2.3-million.
Capt. Mark Rosen said in legal filings his role in the department was marginalized after he and other officers allegedly heard Police Chief Sandra Spagnoli make insensitive remarks about Jews, Catholics, and lesbians. Rosen cleared out his desk Friday and agreed to retire immediately.
"The City of Beverly Hills has agreed to pay 2.3 million dollars based on our claims of discrimination and retaliation, and based on the evidence that I have seen it was a bargain," said Rosen's attorney Bradley Gage. "The Police Department has significant issues concerning discrimination, harassment, and retaliation of its employees, which undermines public safety and employee morale."
Gage has filed lawsuits on behalf of six other Beverly Hills Police employees and anticipates filing three more. A jury trial in Rosen's case had been set to begin this week. Spagnoli could not immediately be reached for comment.
"While the city of Beverly Hills continues to deny allegations in the Mark Rosen and other lawsuits, a decision was made by the city's insurance company to settle the lawsuit brought by Captain Rosen," the city said in a statement released by a spokesperson. "The city of Beverly Hills has always upheld its unwavering commitment to maintaining a respectful work environment free from harassment, retaliation and discrimination and will continue to do so," the statement said.
Rosen's case was one of at least 10 lawsuits filed against the city by Beverly Hills Police employees. More than 20 police employees, including those who sued, have filed workplace complaints about the Chief, according to court records. The city, which declined to discuss Rosen's case in detail, said repeatedly this year the City Council had full confidence in Spagnoli to institute a series of reforms and modernizations described in a 2015 consultant's report.
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Earlier this year Spagnoli declined an interview when NBC4 first reported on the Rosen case several other lawsuits in March.
A city spokeswoman said in a written statement the chief could not discuss the cases, "because of unresolved legal and personnel issues."
The statement said Spagnoli was hired as a reformer, "to implement change and contemporary policing practices."
In another statement in August the Beverly Hills City Attorney said the city was, "deeply disappointed by the personal attacks on the integrity of our police department."
Members of the City Council did not respond earlier this year to written requests for comment on the lawsuits.
NBC4 first reported in March that in addition to Rosen two lieutenants had sued: Renato Moreno and Michael Foxen.
All three claimed they missed out on promotions or professional advancement after they allegedly heard the chief and other officials use insensitive language to describe Jews, African-Americans, lesbians, Mexican-Americans, and Catholics.
Moreno and Foxen said they faced workplace retaliation after giving depositions in Rosen's case. Since April several more lawsuits were filed against the city that name the police chief:
An African-American parking enforcement supervisor for the police department, Gregory Routt, claimed in a court complaint he was the victim of racial discrimination; a police sergeant, David Tomlin, said in civil court filings the chief improperly withheld the findings of an internal affairs investigation that cleared him of wrongdoing; a police department business manager sued, alleging she was marginalized and lost merit pay after she repeatedly warned Chief Spagnoli was being careless with public funds.
"On a regular and continuous basis Plaintiff warned or complained that Chief Spagnoli was not following the legal requirements of the municipal code, financial rules, or regulations," Tania Schwartz said in a legal complaint.
"Spagnoli would mock Plaintiff when she noted the inappropriateness and legal irregularities of Spagnoli's budget expenditures," the complaint said.
Many of the Rosen, Moreno, and Foxen allegations were echoed in a lawsuit filed in August by Officer Anne Marie Lunsman, who said she was passed-over for promotions and special assignments as a result of an alleged, "hostile work environment."
Lunsman claimed she was pushed aside because of her gender, age, race, and religion.
Several additional workplace complaints have also been filed, including a claim filed last week by an anonymous male police officer who said he faced retaliation after refusing Spagnoli's alleged sexual advances.