LOS ANGELE – A Los Angeles Police Department sergeant who alleged he was wrongfully prohibited from speaking Spanish in his role as a media spokesman has tentatively settled the lawsuit he filed against the city for discrimination, retaliation and harassment.
Lawyers for plaintiff Sgt. Frank Preciado filed court papers on Wednesday with Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Mark V. Mooney stating that a “conditional” settlement was reached and that a request for dismissal of the case will be filed by Jan. 6. No terms were divulged and it was not immediately clear if the settlement is subject to approval by the City Council.
In his suit filed in April 2019, Preciado, while working in the department’s media relations unit, alleged that his superiors ordered him not to speak Spanish in the workplace and ordered that Spanish television newscasts be turned off in the media office.
The 25-year department veteran further alleged that when he complained, he faced retaliation in the form of a loss of job duties and his official vehicle.
Preciado’s tasks included interacting with Spanish-language media channels, but in his suit, he maintained he could not speak Spanish to those outlets during phone calls or at news conferences.
The city argued in a 2021 motion that the case should be dismissed because Preciado was not demoted and could not prove he was harassed.
“Perhaps the most egregious part of (Preciado’s) lawsuit is the conduct that he complains of, which he contends occurred as the result of discrimination, retaliation and harassment,” the city’s court papers stated. “For example, he whines at length about the fact that his take-home vehicle was taken way, despite the fact that he was never authorized to have a take- home car.”
According to the lawsuit, the first restriction occurred in March 2017, when Capt. Patricia Sandoval ordered all Spanish-language television newscasts to be turned off in the media center. When Preciado complained, he faced a backlash, he alleged.
The city disputed those claims, stating in their court papers that “examining the undisputed facts, it is clear that he has suffered no material changes to his employment. His salary and benefits all remain exactly the same and he has stayed working in his preferred position.”
Preciado also alleged that he was stripped of his role as a public information officer, but the city maintained in its court papers that he only served in that role in an acting capacity.
“Moreover, he readily admits that the percentage of his PIO work has remained unchanged from 2016-20,” the city’s court papers stated.
After Sandoval became Preciado’s captain, he believed she was “adversarial” and “a woman on a power trip,” according to the city’s court papers.
Preciado admitted that he was never told by any boss that he should not give interviews in Spanish, nor was he ever reprimanded for giving interviews in Spanish, the city’s court papers stated.
But Preciado maintained in a sworn declaration that his physical and mental health have deteriorated as a result of his treatment.
“I have been suffering from severe migraines, insomnia and mental anxiety brought on by stress,” Preciado said.
Preciado said he had planned to work for the LAPD for at least 28 years and five additional years in an early retirement option program.
“Now, I’ll be forced to take a different retirement path to escape stress from the constant discrimination and retaliation,” Preciado said.