The City of Beverly Hills lost a motion in court this week to narrow down the claims in a lawsuit filed by a 67-year-old former Beverly Hills senior recreation supervisor. Cynthia Brynan filed her lawsuit April 8, alleging she was denied promotions and forced to quit because of her age. Attorneys for the City and Assistant City Manager Nancy Hunt-Coffey, (the former director of recreation and parks and a named defendant) argued that Brynan had failed to adequately plead four causes of action, including disability discrimination and harassment.
Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Gregory Keosian overruled the city’s motion (known as a demurrer) in its entirety.
Co-counsel for Brynan, Gloria Allred, tells the Courier: “Ms. Brynan was a loyal and dedicated employee of the city of Beverly Hills for decades. Once she reached her early 60s, the city engaged in familiar tactics to push her out of a job she loved by denying her promotions and treating her poorly. We are happy with the court’s ruling this week allowing us to proceed with our lawsuit on all grounds.”
According to Brynan’s first amended complaint, she was hired in 1979 as the recreation supervisor and elevated in 2001 to a post in which she assisted in the management of the Greystone Mansion. Brynan alleges that she obtained several high-profile sponsors for the annual Concours d’Elegance, including Tesla, Chubb Insurance and Ferrari North America. She was promoted to senior recreation supervisor in 2010.
In December 2016, Hunt- Coffey was promoted to director and an opening for the position of manager arose. Brynan, who informally filled the manager role from January 2017 to May of that year, says she told Hunt- Coffey that she was interested in the permanent position. Hunt- Coffey’s reaction was dismissive, but Brynan applied for the manager position anyway, the lawsuit says.
Brynan’s complaint states that the Concours event in 2017 “was a huge success” and she received $2,500 for her after- hours work as she had in previous years. In June of 2017, Brynan went on medical leave for a knee replacement and was not allowed an accommodation to have her interview for the manager job delayed, forcing her to go forward with it on Skype, according to the complaint.
The job was later given to a woman about 35 years old who had worked as a lifeguard in Laguna Hills and had little experience with management of such venues as the Greystone Mansion, according to the lawsuit.
Brynan says she complained to Hunt-Coffey in November 2017 that she believed her age was a factor in not getting the manager position, but the defendant did not take the plaintiff’s comments well and gave her “no meaningful response,” according to the complaint.
In 2018, Hunt-Coffey denied Brynan the $2,500 special assignment pay for the Concours event she had received annually in 2010-17, prompting the plaintiff to take the issue to her union representative, the suit states.
Thereafter, Brynan says she was stripped of many of her duties and shunned. In February 2018, her spouse received a call from someone involved in the 2017 managerial hiring process who said those involved in the selection “were instructed to select young blood and (Brynan) had no chance for the job,” the suit alleges.
Brynan was reassigned in June 2018 from Greystone Mansion to La Cienega Park, where her job duties became “more menial and insignificant,” according to her complaint, which alleges she continued to be passed over for manager positions in favor of younger candidates. She did her best to “soldier on and succeed in her job,” but the ongoing “hostility and humiliation” led her to take medical leave and she was forced to quit in February of this year.
Brynan’s lawyer, Sark Ohanian, tells the Courier that Brynan had hoped to work for the city until she was about 70 years old.
City spokesperson Keith Sterling tells the Courier: “We argued that based on the complaint, and solely on the complaint, the city isn’t liable. The judge ruled that the complaint was sufficient and ordered us to proceed to answer the complaint. The city will answer the complaint, proceed with discovery and possibly bring a pre-trial motion to resolve this matter.”
The trial is scheduled for April of 2021.