Black LASD Lieutenant Alleges Racism Behind Promotion Denials

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LOS ANGELES (CNS) - A Black Los Angeles County sheriff's lieutenant is suing the county, alleging she has been repeatedly denied promotion to captain because of her race.

Lt. Sonja Bracken's Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit alleges racial discrimination, retaliation, harassment, and failure to take all reasonable steps to prevent discrimination. She seeks unspecified damages.

"If the plaintiff were not Black, she would be captain at LASD," the suit alleges.

An LASD representative did not immediately reply to a request for comment on the suit brought Friday.

Bracken was hired in August 1995 as a civilian in community services at the sheriff's Lakewood station and currently works in the Custody Services Division of the Century Regional Detention Facility.

Bracken has received "outstanding" evaluations both as a sergeant and as a lieutenant and she has only one written reprimand on her record stemming from when she was a young deputy in 2003, the suit states.

Nonetheless, Bracken has been denied a promotion to captain because she is Black, the suit alleges. She first applied to become a captain in December 2020, but was passed over multiple times in 2021 and continues to be passed over even though other lieutenants were elevated to the position, the suit states.

In October 2021, Bracken was asked to work temporarily assisting in a COVID-19 exemption review team and supervise five other members of a team and get exposure to upper command for possible promotion to captain, the suit states.

But when Bracken applied for captain again in January of this year, she was passed over again and the promotions were instead given to three other lieutenants in March, the suit states.

Bracken once again offered her candidacy for captain in July, but those promotions were later stopped to allow newly elected Sheriff Robert Luna to make his own selections, according to the suit.

The alleged discrimination in not promoting Bracken has caused her embarrassment, humiliation, anxiety, extreme emotional distress and related symptoms, and severe financial losses, the suit states.

"(Bracken) was by all objective accounts a smart, highly principled and highly qualified employee on a track to a series of promotions, if not for the demotion, denial of promotion and retaliation," the suit states.

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