Closing arguments wrapped up Friday afternoon for a lawsuit filed by a female police officer, who claims she faced discrimination and harassment because of her pregnancy, and retaliation when she complained.
On Thursday, a Los Angeles County Superior Court judge told jurors they could not consider other claims made by Officer Cindy Guillen in the lawsuit, including that she faced harassment based on her ethnicity and gender.
Jurors will decide whether Guillen should be awarded up to $500,000 for pain and suffering, and up to $30,000 for lost wages due to allegedly being taken off an assignment in retaliation for lodging a complaint.
Guillen's attorney, Solomon Gresen, made an emotional plea to jurors Friday morning, asking them to consider what his client's motive is for coming forward with the claims.
“Is she a bad officer?” Gresen said. “Was she going to get fired? Why is the Latina media face of the department telling you that people discriminated and retaliated against her?”
Gresen said jurors were able to see the person Guillen used to be when she smiled at one moment during her testimony. But his client is a different person now because of the harassment and retaliation she endured, he said.
“You can see it affected her,” Gresen said, reminding jurors of Guillen's time on the witness stand. “Her pain was palpable.”
Gresen also questioned an assertion made by the city's defense attorney that there were several other women who became pregnant in the department.
“Yeah, maybe 15, 20 or 30 years ago,” Gresen said. “Why is that? Why are Burbank police officers —women — afraid to get pregnant? They don't want to lose their careers.”
Guillen — who has been with the department since 2000 — also alleged the city retaliated against her, in part, by removing her from a parks patrol position, a loss of about $470 a month.
She had also alleged that she was sexually harassed and, as a Latina, faced on-the-job discrimination — accusations the city denied earlier this week in court. But the judge dropped those claims from the lawsuit without explanation in court Thursday.
Defense attorney Linda Savitt said during her closing arguments that Guillen's claim of facing discrimination due to her pregnancy was false — the department granted her request to go on light duty.
Savitt accused Guillen of trying to capitalize on problems in the department to make her case, and that she brought up claims from several years ago that were “ancient history” to an outside investigator.
Additionally, the comments are no longer part of the case because they have to do with gender harassment, Savitt said.
She went on to paint Guillen as someone who held grudges, and whose family problems impacted her view of the world. Not only were Guillen's accusations untrue, but her motivations misguided, Savitt added.