court settlement
Court Settlement / Lawyers - Photo courtesy of 89stocker on Shutterstock

A 70-year-old former Beverly Hills senior recreation supervisor who once assisted with management of the city-owned Greystone Mansion & Gardens has settled her lawsuit alleging the city denied her promotions because of her age and that she was ultimately forced to resign in 2019 due to the incessant hostility from a supervisor.

Lawyers for plaintiff Cynthia Brynan filed a notice of settlement on Tuesday with Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Gregory Keosian stating that the case was resolved, but no terms were divulged. The judge vacated the scheduled May 23 trial date.

In December, Keosian denied a motion by attorneys for Beverly Hills to dismiss Brynan’s causes of action for discrimination, harassment, retaliation, failure to accommodate and engage in the interactive process.

Brynan’s lawsuit was filed in April 2019 and also named 55-year-old Nancy Hunt-Coffey — then the city’s director of recreation and parks and now the assistant city manager — as a defendant.

Lawyers for the city argued in their court papers that Brynan was not promoted for legitimate, neutral reasons and that her program was subsequently cut for financial irregularities. The defense attorneys additionally maintained in their court papers that Brynan was ranked low in the interview process by impartial, outside panelists.

But in his December ruling, Keosian wrote that a candidate many years younger than Brynan was given a promotion she also sought. Brynan also has maintained that when she informed Hunt-Coffey — the person ultimately charged with selecting who would fill the position — of her plan to apply for the promotion, Hunt-Coffey became upset and tried to discourage her from applying.

Brynan was hired in 1979 as the recreation supervisor and elevated in 2001 to a post in which she assisted in the management of the Greystone Mansion, where many high-profile events are held annually, including Concours d’Elegance rare cars exhibition, the suit stated.

Brynan also obtained many high-profile sponsors for the Concours event, including Tesla, Chubb Insurance and Ferrari North America, according to her court papers, which say she was promoted to senior recreation supervisor in 2010.

In December 2016, a series of departures within the department resulted in Hunt-Coffey being promoted to director and an opening for the position of manager, according to her suit.

Brynan, who informally filled the manager role from January-May 2017, said she told Hunt-Coffey that she was interested in the permanent position. Hunt-Coffey’s reaction was dismissive, but Brynan applied for the manager position anyway, her suit stated.

Meanwhile, the Concours event in 2017 “was a huge success” and she received $2,500 for her after-hours work as she had in previous years, according to her court papers. In June 2017, Brynan went on medical leave for a knee replacement and was not allowed an accommodation to have her interview for the manager job delayed, forcing her to conduct it on Skype, the suit stated.

“(Brynan) did her best, but was clearly disadvantaged by not appearing in person and (appearing) under the influence of medication,” according to the complaint.

The job was later given to a woman about 35 years old who had worked as a lifeguard in Laguna Hills and had little experience with management of such venues as the Greystone Mansion, the suit stated.

Brynan said she complained to Hunt-Coffey in November 2017 that she believed her age was a factor in her not getting the manager position, but the defendant did not take the plaintiff’s comments well and gave her “no meaningful response,” according to the suit.

In 2018, Hunt-Coffey denied Brynan the $2,500 special assignment pay for the Concours event she had received annually from 2010-17, prompting the plaintiff to take the issue to her union representative, the suit states. Hunt-Coffey later canceled the 2018 Concours event in retaliation for Brynan’s complaints, the suit alleged.

Brynan said she was stripped of many of her duties and shunned. In February 2018, her husband received a call from someone involved in the 2017 manager hiring process who said those involved in the selection “were instructed to select young blood and (Brynan) had no chance for the job,” the suit alleged.

Brynan was reassigned in June 2018 from Greystone Mansion to La Cienega Park, where her job duties became “more menial and insignificant,” according to her court papers, which say she continued to be passed over for manager positions in favor of younger candidates and did her best to “soldier on and succeed in her job,” but the ongoing “hostility and humiliation” led her to take medical leave and she was forced to quit in February 2019.

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