A Latina who works in parking enforcement for the city of Beverly Hills is entitled to more than $3 million in damages for putting up with more than a decade of offensive comments from her Black boss, who called her an “anchor baby” and operated an anti-immigrant website, her attorney told a jury this week.
“The city stereotyped her as a gang member from the barrio,” attorney William Bloch said in his final argument in the trial of Elisa Lopez’s Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit. “They told her, ‘You can complain, and we’re going to keep doing it until you quit or break down.”’
The city maintains that Lopez was demoted after a brief time as a supervisor because of her inability to work well with subordinates, a view supported during the trial by several defense witnesses.
The city also denies that any discrimination, retaliation or harassment occurred.
Bloch countered that Lopez has suffered both mentally and physically and recommended that she be awarded $420,000 for lost wages and medical costs and another $3 million for pain and suffering.
Lopez testified that Routt’s attitudes toward Latinos was exemplified in his Internet site called illegalaliennewsupdate.com. She said her father was an undocumented immigrant and that she felt insulted by the website’s articles blaming such people for crime and increased welfare rolls.
“I told him I thought the website was offensive and anti-Mexican,” she said. “He just blew me off and chuckled about it.”
Lopez said Routt also talked about joining the Minutemen Project, an activist organization that patrolled the U.S.-Mexican border several years ago.
Lopez, who filed her lawsuit against the city and Routt in June 2013, testified that she joined the city as a parking enforcement officer in 2001 and worked full-time while also carrying a full load of classes at UCLA. She said she received a promotion in 2004 and that Routt remained her boss until she was given a supervisor’s job in 2011. She was demoted the same year.
According to Lopez, Routt treated her different than other swing-shift employees who were not Latinos.
Lopez testified that she took the anti-illegal immigrant comments by Routt personally. She said she initially did not know what he meant when he called her an anchor baby, and that she was offended when she learned its true meaning.
“It was a very derogatory term, and I was very upset,” she said. “I felt like he was targeting my dad and he was targeting me.”