A female sheriff’s lieutenant is suing Los Angeles County, alleging a woman supervisor discriminated against her in order to impress her chain of command and told the plaintiff to report to work after the plaintiff contracted the coronavirus.
LASD Lt. Araceli Hernandez further maintains she was punitively transferred from one station to another in 2022 in retaliation for her complaints. Her Los Angeles County Superior Court lawsuit alleges retaliation, discrimination based on sex, failure to prevent harassment, discrimination or retaliation and breach of a mandatory duty. Hernandez seeks unspecified damages. An LASD representative could not be immediately reached for comment on the lawsuit, brought last week.
Hernandez was hired by the LASD in 2005. She was promoted to watch commander at the Pico Rivera sheriff’s station in July 2021 and at the time was the only woman of her rank at the station so assigned, according to her suit. Before Hernandez’s arrival at the Pico Rivera station, the station captain, also a female, told various subordinates that included civilian employees, “We have a female coming here who doesn’t have the experience,” the suit alleges.
Hernandez believes that the captain, although also a female, “engages in a pattern and practice of demeaning and discriminating against female subordinates in order to impress her chain of command,” according to the suit, which cites two other cases of female deputies also allegedly disparaged by the captain. While taking part in an administrative investigation into a deputy, the captain threw paperwork at the plaintiff and accused her of “opening a can of worms” for interviewing witnesses while falsely claiming she only wanted Hernandez to interview the subject deputy, according to the suit. The captain issued Hernandez a written reprimand, which the plaintiff believes was a “naked act of retaliation,” the suit states.
Hernandez tested positive for the coronavirus on Christmas Day in 2021 and the captain initially denied the plaintiff time to get medical care, telling her instead to report to work while infected, exposing others at the Pico Rivera station to the virus, the suit states. The captain ultimately told Hernandez to go to a hospital, but when Hernandez returned to the station and told the captain that a doctor had ordered her to quarantine, the captain refused and told the plaintiff to finish her shift, the suit states. The captain insisted that Hernandez contracted the coronavirus at home rather than at work, the suit states.
Hernandez filed a Los Angeles County Policy of Equity complaint against the captain in January 2022 alleging gender-based discrimination and harassment, maintaining that the captain favored male subordinates over females by refusing to approve vacation or overtime requests for the plaintiff, but giving the nod to nearly identical requests for male lieutenants, the suit states. The captain allegedly retaliated in a variety of ways against Hernandez for filing the complaint including issuing a series of unfounded written reprimands, according to the suit, which further states that the station administration did nothing after she spoke out about her name being forged on internal LASD documents, either by the captain directly or by others told to do so by the captain.
Last June, Hernandez was “punitively and involuntarily transferred” to the Cerritos sheriff’s station, the suit states.