LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – A jury on Wednesday awarded a former Baldwin Park Police chief $7 million for being fired in 2013 because of her gender.
The Los Angeles Superior Court jury deliberated for less than a day before finding that 63-year-old Lili Hadsell was subjected to gender discrimination, gender harassment and retaliation.
Hadsell, sitting in the courtroom, wept as she heard the verdict. Most of the jurors congratulated her and wished her good luck as they left the courtroom.
“I really feel wonderful,” Hadsell told KCAL9’s Chris Holmstrom, “I feel vindicated.”
She also felt a sense of relief. The former Baldwin Park Police Chief for five years said the harassment started right away. She was promoted to the top job in 2008.
“As I’m sitting in my brand new office, brand new uniform, I hear a man down the hallway, I didn’t see him but I heard him say, ‘I’ll never call that woman chief of police’,” Hadsell says.
She says the harassment lasted throughout her tenure. She singled out City Council Member Ricardo Pacheco.
“He called me one night in 2009 and yelled and screamed about something I had done within the department that was in my jurisdiction to do. He yelled, screamed, he degraded me,” Hadsell says.
According to court documents, Pacheco made comments to her subordinates that “a woman cannot do this job” and that “she took Mike Taylor’s job” — a captain some others were hoping would be named chief.
“As my subordinate, I think he worked very hard to undermine me and I think he worked hard to make it known he didn’t have respect for me as chief of police,” Hadsell says.
After she says she made several complaints to her supervisor about the supervisor and the mayor, she was suddenly fired.
“They gave no reason, I was terminated without cause to the mayor,” Hadsell says.
Mike Taylor would be named the new chief. Outraged and in disbelief, Hadsell hired a lawyer and sued the city for gender discrimination. The city now owes her $7 million. Taylor has since retired.
The city released a statement saying they were disappointed by the court’s ruling. They go on to say, “In light of some of the allegations in court, the city of Baldwin Park and its current city council continue to be vehemently opposed to any form of sexism and is highly sensitive to gender discrimination.”
(For a link to the complete statement, click here.)
Those are words, Hadsell hopes, the city will live by.
City News Service says Pacheco, who remains on the council, was also behind blog posts such as one that stated, “I believe the only police work Hadsell did was
on her knees to get promoted through the ranks.”
During the trial, the city argued that Hadsell had problems working with members of the department and said two of the three council members who voted to oust her were women.
“I fought for my rights,” she says, “and today I feel vindicated that I got what I deserve, I feel.”
Holmstrom reached out to Pacheco and Taylor for comment but has not heard back.