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Officer sues former Glendale police chief, city over claims of discrimination and harassment

Officer sues former Glendale police chief, city over claims of discrimination and harassment
An officer with the Glendale Police Department is suing the former police chief and the city over claims of workplace discrimination and harassment based on her gender. (File Photo)

A Glendale police officer is suing the city, alleging she was subjected to gender discrimination and harassment by her superiors, causing her to be passed over for promotions in retaliation for reporting their behavior.

Lynette Salazar claimed in the suit she was denied a promotion to sergeant several times throughout her time with the Glendale Police Department despite being qualified for the position and having a minimal disciplinary record. She also applied to several special assignments and training opportunities at the department where "virtually all" of the positions were given to male officers instead.

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Many of the male officers who were chosen were "less qualified" than Salazar, according to the lawsuit.

"Glendale engaged in a determined course of discriminatory conduct for the purpose of denying promotions to management positions for virtually all females," the suit alleges.

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City Atty. Mike Garcia said city officials received the lawsuit and are in the process of reviewing it but declined to comment further.

Salazar's attorney did not return a request for comment as of press time.

Former Glendale Police Chief Robert Castro is also named in the suit. It alleges that Castro's "personal selection and control" over internal panels overseeing promotions helped perpetuate a culture of discrimination within the department.

Castro was at the center of a previous discrimination lawsuit in 2016 when a female officer, Ludmilla Abrahamian, alleged racial and gender discrimination in the department's promotion process. That suit alleged Castro told a panel of experts overseeing the search for a new police captain he "did not want a female or minority" to be one of the top contenders for the promotion.

The lawsuit was eventually settled earlier this year for $550,000.

Salazar took her discrimination complaints to Castro in June 2016 but the "meeting was not successful," according to the suit.

"Castro took no corrective action regarding discriminatory treatment," it states. "[Salazar] is informed and believes and thereon alleges that [Castro] did not investigate or make any effort to obtain relevant information regarding [her] complaints. He did not even take notes during the meeting."

The lawsuit also alleges Castro and the department frequently failed to reasonably accommodate Salazar when she became injured on the job, such as not assigning her light-duty work and treating her "less favorably in part due to her injuries."

Salazar was also the victim of harassment, according to the suit, during a meeting held in September 2016. Castro allegedly told officers he did not "'want any pussies out there,' or words to that effect, with reference to his expectations for a sergeant."

Two women were reportedly in the room at the time of his remarks, and the suit alleges Castro's comments were about his "frustration with females on the police force."

The lawsuit claims that Castro's "contempt for female officers" gave male officers a "tacit approval to maintain a degrading work atmosphere in which the objectification of women was allowed."

Salazar eventually took her complaints directly to the city's human resources department, but the suit states Glendale officials found "no evidence of gender or disability discrimination" or proof of retaliation.

The lawsuit claims officials knowingly brought in an investigator whose primary interest was with the city and who would not find any evidence to corroborate Salazar's complaints.

She is seeking unspecified damages.

Twitter: @Andy_Truc

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