Four members of the Beverly Hills Police Department, who allege they have been subjected to discrimination and harassment under the leadership of Chief Sandra Spagnoli, can take their lawsuit to trial, a judge ruled Thursday.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Elizabeth Feffer heard arguments May 10 on the city’s motion to dismiss the case, then took the issues under submission before handing down her final ruling in the lawsuit brought by lieutenants Renato Moreno, Michael Foxen and Shan Davis, and civilian employee Dona Norris, who is the BHPD’s public safey communications and evidence manager.
Feffer also rescheduled the start of trial from June 3 to June 10 and issued a number of preliminary rulings, including one that will allow the plaintiffs’ attorneys to present testimony from witnesses who’ve allegedly heard Spagnoli making disparaging remarks about individuals because of their religion. The judge will hear arguments on June 3 on all the evidentiary motions before making her final rulings.
The attorneys met with Judge William Fahey on Wednesday for a mandatory settlement conference, but the case was not resolved. The lawyers then spent more than an hour in chambers with Feffer before she emerged and made her ruling on the city’s dismissal motion.
Moreno maintains he has endured “pervasive” anti-Latino and anti-Catholic discrimination under Spagnoli and that matters came to a head when he provided testimony on behalf of former Capt. Mark Rosen, who also sued the city for discrimination and retaliation and settled for $2.3 million. Moreno also alleges he was given fewer choice assignments, lost job benefits and pay and was subjected to improper internal investigations.
Foxen maintains he suffered a backlash when he notified management that Officer Lisa Weller, who is gay, was paid less than a heterosexual male officer with the same experience.
Davis was Norris’ supervisor and maintains Spagnoli directed him to lower Norris’ performance evaluation because she is gay.
After standing up for Norris and refusing to comply with Spagnoli’s alleged order, Davis was passed over for promotions and transferred to a less prestigious position, the suit states.
After finding out that Norris was gay, Spagnoli refused to provide her the necessary support staff and eliminated her promotional opportunities, according to the complaint.
Spagnoli previously was the police chief for the cities of Benicia and San Leandro in northern California.
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