A veteran California Highway Patrol lieutenant commander has sued the department and the state of California, alleging she was denied promotions for which she had superior qualifications because she is a woman.
Lt. Laura Hill’s Los Angeles Superior Court gender discrimination lawsuit was filed Friday and seeks unspecified damages.
A CHP representative told City News Service on Sunday that “The CHP does not comment on pending litigation.”
Hill graduated from the CHP academy in 2002 and was promoted to sergeant seven years later, then lieutenant in 2015, the suit states. She is currently a lieutenant commander at the Castaic Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Facility, the suit states.
She obtained bachelor’s degree in criminal justice from Cal State Fullerton in 1998, has received several awards and has extensive professional training, the suit states.
Prior to her current assignment, Hill served as the lieutenant in the investigation services unit, where she supervised five sergeants and 30 officers, the suit states.
In April 2018, she sought a promotion to captain, the suit states. She scored 15th out of 73 candidates and was the top candidate in Southern Division, encompassing the Los Angeles County area, according to the complaint.
In May 2018, she received a phone call from a chief and an assistant chief, who congratulated her on her placement, the suit states. The chief then asked her where she lived. After she replied, “Valencia,” the chief said, “Because, you know we take that into consideration when making decisions about these commands,” the suit states.
Hill found the chief’s statement “odd” because numerous captains do not live close to their jobs and candidates are free to choose whether they are willing to work in a particular area, according to the suit.
A month later, Hill interviewed for the captain position in the West Los Angeles area, but the post was given to a male candidate who scored 34 spots lower, the suit states.
In January 2019, she interviewed for a position in West Valley Command. Four months later, the job was granted to a male candidate who scored 26 places lower, the suit states.
In a discussion of her performance, a chief told Hill “she should have brought up the use of social media during her interview,” the suit states.
Hill subsequently met with a chief to discuss work-related matters and asked him for advice on improving her promotional chances, the suit states. He replied that “she was doing a great job and should continue putting in for positions,” the suit states.
Last October, Hill interviewed for the job of Central Los Angeles Command, but the job went to a male candidate who placed 35 spots below her, according to the suit.
During a conversation with a chief, he asked her, “How can you be available as a commander as a single mom?” the suit states.
She replied that she already was on call in her current position and had arrangements for her daughter should the need arise, the suit states.
Hill was eventually chosen in 2019 for the lieutenant commander job in Castaic, a small station that does not have a captain and is tasked with weighing trucks, the suit states. She was passed over for other more coveted promotions in 2019 and this year, the suit states.
Based on the chief’s remarks about her status as a single mother and on other comments he made, Hill “realized (the CHP’s) motivations for not promoting her were based on her gender, ” the suit states.
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