The City Attorney’s Office, responding to a lawsuit filed by an LAPD sergeant who alleges he was prohibited from speaking Spanish in his role as a media spokesman, argues the case should be dismissed because he was not demoted and cannot prove he was harassed.
The City Attorney’s Office filed papers April 8 in Los Angeles Superior Court outlining its argument that Sgt. Frank Preciado is not entitled to a trial of his claims.
“Perhaps the most egregious part of (Preciado’s) lawsuit is the conduct that he complains of, which he contends occurred as the result of discrimination, retaliation and harassment,” the city’s court papers state. “For example, he whines at length about the fact that his take-home vehicle was taken way, despite the fact that he was never authorized to have a take-home car.”
In his suit filed in April 2019, Preciado, who continues to work in the department’s media relations unit, alleges that his superiors ordered him not to speak Spanish in the workplace and that Spanish television newscasts were turned off in the media office.
The 23-year department veteran alleges that when he complained, he faced retaliation in the form of a loss of job duties and his official vehicle.
Preciado’s tasks included interacting with Spanish-language media channels, but in his suit he maintains he cannot speak Spanish to those outlets during phone calls or at news conferences.
According to the lawsuit, the first restriction occurred March 2017, when Capt. Patricia Sandoval ordered all Spanish-language television newscasts to be turned off in the media center. When Preciado complained, he faced retaliation, he alleges.
The city disputes those claims, stating in their court papers that ” examining the undisputed facts, it is clear that he has suffered no material changes to his employment. His salary and benefits all remain exactly the same and he has stayed working in his preferred position.”
Preciado also alleges that he was stripped of his role as a public information officer, but the city maintains in its court papers that he only served in that role in an acting capacity.
“Moreover, he readily admits that the percentage of his PIO work has remained unchanged from 2016-20,” the city’s court papers state.
Preciado had problems with Sandoval after she became his captain and “felt she was a woman on a power trip” and was “adversarial,” according to the city’s court papers.
Preciado alleges that Sandoval and civilian director Josh Rubenstein announced in March 2017 that no media center televisions would show Spanish telecasts, but reversed course eight days later after the plaintiff complained that it interfered with his ability to do his job, according to the city’s court papers.
Preciado admits that he was never told by any boss that he should not give interviews in Spanish, nor was he ever reprimanded for giving interviews in Spanish, the city’s court papers state. “In fact, his performance review signed by Capt. Sandoval specifically highlights his Spanish work as part of his duties and praises him for it.”
Preciado concedes that his current situation has vastly improved with a captain who replaced Sandoval after she left the media division, the city’s court papers state.
A hearing on the city’s dismissal motion is scheduled for June 25.