Following two days of deliberation, a Los Angeles County jury ruled in favor of the City of Long Beach in a gender discrimination lawsuit. It found that the Long Beach Police Department (LBPD) chose the most qualified applicant when it selected another officer over the plaintiff, Long Beach police officer Wendy Starbird, in contrast to her accusations of job selection based on gender bias, according to a release from the Long Beach City Attorney's Office.
Starbird, a 19-year veteran of the department, filed a lawsuit claiming that the police department discriminated against her when she was not selected to be a tactical flight officer in the department’s Air Support Unit, a position assisting the LBPD’s helicopter pilot and coordinating with other officers on the ground during operations.
During a trial lasting three weeks, the plaintiff, who was the only female of an applicant group of five, claimed that she was the most qualified for the position. She argued to the jury that the only reason she was denied the position was because of her gender, according to the release.
The city maintained that while Starbird was qualified for the position, the male applicant who was selected was ultimately the most qualified.
“In reaching the verdict, the jury determined that Starbird’s gender played a part in the selection process; however, the jury ultimately concluded that the Police Department selected the most qualified person for the position, regardless of gender,” the release stated. “The jury also unanimously found that the LBPD did not retaliate against Starbird for filing the lawsuit when she reapplied for, but was denied, the same position almost a year later.”
As a result Starbird was not awarded any damages, according to the release.
The defense of the case was handled by Haleh Jenkins for the city and the case was tried by the Long Beach City Attorney’s Office.