GLENDALE, CA — Glendale officials will pay $550,000 to a former police lieutenant as a settlement for a lawsuit filed against the city that alleged she was denied a promotion because of her race and gender.
Filed in May 2016, Ludmilla Abrahamian’s suit claimed bias during the promotion process for a captain’s position at the Glendale Police Department. The suit alleged the bias came at the behest of then-Chief Robert Castro.
Ann Maurer, chief assistant city attorney, said in an email the settlement is “not an acknowledgment of any wrongdoing by the city or its employees.”
“The city’s position has and continues to be that the allegations of discrimination and retaliation are unfounded,” she said.
According to the settlement agreement, the $550,000 payment was broken down into $66,000 for lost wages, $264,000 for alleged emotional distress or physical sickness and $220,000 for attorney’s fees. Abrahamian also agreed to retire from the department, which occurred last month.
Abrahamian’s attorneys could not be reached for comment.
Her suit claimed that she was the most qualified of six applicants who applied for an open captain’s position at the department in December 2015. According to the suit, Abrahamian discovered that the panel of experts responsible for evaluating the candidates was specifically picked by Castro and instructed by him on how to rank the candidates.
The suit alleged that Castro “made clear to the interviewers that he did not want a female or minority to be ranked in the top three positions.”
The top three candidates chosen by the group did not include Abrahamian.
Castro told panel members that he wanted to discuss his needs with them prior to their candidate selection, according to emails obtained through California’s open records law by the Glendale Coalition for Better Government, a community watchdog group.
“HR is [a] pain in the ass here, and I need the right people in the right order to fix things,” he said. “Many past promotions were done for political and racial favor. I do not play that game so that is why I asked you to help me.”
Human resources officials eventually determined that the emails sent by Castro were inappropriate and the promotion process was restarted with a new set of experts.
Abrahamian’s suit alleged Castro still picked people for the panel “he knew would appoint only males and disregard minorities.”
One of the new panelists included Tom Angel, who resigned several months later from the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department after it was discovered he forwarded what detractors called racially insensitive and misogynistic emails during his time at the Burbank Police Department.
The suit alleged Angel had close ties to Castro.
Castro could not be reached for comment, and he retired from the department last month.