Judge Denies Beverly Hills Motion to Trim Claims From Former Employees Case

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LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A judge indicated Wednesday he is poised to allow a 70- year-old former Beverly Hills senior recreation supervisor who once assisted with management of the city-owned Greystone Mansion & Gardens to proceed with all the claims in her lawsuit alleging she was denied promotions because of her age.

Plaintiff Cynthia Brynan also maintains in her Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit that she was forced to resign in 2019 due to the incessant hostility from a supervisor. Judge Gregory Keosian issued a tentative ruling denying a motion by attorneys for Beverly Hills to dismiss Brynan's causes of action for discrimination, harassment, retaliation failure to accommodate and engage in the interactive process.

Brynan's lawsuit was filed in April 2019 and also names 55-year-old Nancy Hunt-Coffey -- then the city's director of recreation and parks and now the assistant city manager -- as a defendant.

Keosian is scheduled to hear arguments Thursday before issuing a final ruling.

Lawyers for the city argue in their court papers that Brynan was not promoted for legitimate, neutral reasons and that her program was subsequently cut for financial irregularities. The defense attorneys additionally maintain in their court papers that Brynan was ranked low in the interview process by impartial, outside panelists.

But in his tentative ruling, Keosian wrote that a candidate many years younger than Brynan was given a promotion she also sought. Brynan also has maintained that when she informed Hunt-Coffey -- the person ultimately charged with selecting who would fill the position -- of her plan to apply for the promotion, Hunt-Coffey became upset and tried to discourage her from applying.

Brynan 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, where many high-profile events are held annually, including Concours d'Elegance rare cars exhibition, the suit states.

Brynan also obtained many high-profile sponsors for the Concours event, including Tesla, Chubb Insurance and Ferrari North America, according to her court papers, which say she was promoted to senior recreation supervisor in 2010.

In December 2016, a series of departures within the department resulted in Hunt-Coffey being promoted to director and an opening for the position of manager, according to her suit.

Brynan, who informally filled the manager role from January-May 2017, said 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, her suit says.

Meanwhile, 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, according to her court papers. In June 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 conduct it on Skype, the suit states.

"(Brynan) did her best, but was clearly disadvantaged by not appearing in person and (appearing) under the influence of medication," 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, the suit states.

Brynan said she complained to Hunt-Coffey in November 2017 that she believed her age was a factor in her 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 suit.

In 2018, Hunt-Coffey denied Brynan the $2,500 special assignment pay for the Concours event she had received annually from 2010-17, prompting the plaintiff to take the issue to her union representative, the suit states. Hunt- Coffey later canceled the 2018 Concours event in retaliation for Brynan's complaints, the suit alleges.

Brynan said she was stripped of many of her duties and shunned. In February 2018, her husband received a call from someone involved in the 2017 manager 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 court papers, which say she continued to be passed over for manager positions in favor of younger candidates and 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 2019.

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