A Latina woman who works in parking enforcement for the city of Beverly Hills testified Thursday that she endured years of offensive comments about her ethnic group by her black boss, who she said called her an “anchor baby” and operated a website attacking illegal immigrants.
Elisa Lopez said she rarely mustered enough courage to confront Gregory Routt about his attitude toward Latinos born outside the United States like her father. But she said she decided to speak up about his Internet site called illegalaliennewsupdate.com.
“I told him I thought the website was offensive and anti-Mexican,” she said. “He just blew me off and chuckled about it.”
Lopez filed her lawsuit against the city and Routt in June 2013, alleging race discrimination, retaliation and harassment.
She testified she joined the city as a parking enforcement officer in 2001 and worked full-time while also carrying a full load of classes at UCLA. She said she received a promotion in 2004 and that Routt remained her boss until she was given a supervisor’s job in 2011.
According to Lopez, Routt treated her different than other swing-shift employees who were not Latinos.
“He seemed more open with others, with me … he wasn’t very approachable,” she said.
She said he ordered her early in her career to write down the names of every street south of Santa Monica Boulevard and the related street restrictions. She said he also made her enforce parking along La Cienega Boulevard, where she said she felt unsafe because restaurant patrons often got angry with her for writing citations.
Lopez said Routt ignored her concerns and that she decided not to complain much.
“I learned not to have an opinion and to stay quiet as things would not always be favorable,” she said.
Lopez said although the police department allowed her to do her homework during breaks in their lunchroom, Routt claimed he received a complaint about her and told her to stop going there. She said his order forced her to do her studies in her car.
She said Routt was not sympathetic after she had surgery to remove bunions from both feet and would not allow her to use vehicles that made her more comfortable.
Lopez testified that she took the anti-illegal immigrant comments by Routt personally. She said she initially did not know what he meant when he called her an anchor baby, but that when she learned its true meaning.
“It was a very derogatory term and I was very upset,” she said. “I felt like he was targeting my dad and he was targeting me.”
Lopez said Routt’s website was replete with anti-immigrant articles blaming them for crimes and for being a financial burden on society. She said Routt invited her to comment on an article in order to increase traffic on his site.
Lopez, a single-parent mother, said she decided to respond to an article arguing for the deportation of Dream Act children.
“I remember I basically said, ‘How can you send somebody home if they were born here?,’ ” Lopez testified.
Another visitor to the site attacked her for her posting, saying, “Oh, you must be Mexican,” Lopez testified.
— City News Service
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