Valencia mom wins $2.15M in CHP-discrimination case 

Signal file photo of CHP Newhall office
Signal file photo of CHP Newhall office

A jury Wednesday provided a measure of vindication for a Valencia single mom and California Highway Patrol lieutenant who claimed the agency’s discriminatory attitudes prevented her promotion to captain. 

Lt. Laura Hill was awarded $2.15 million after jurors essentially believed her version of a conversation she had with Southern Division Chief Chris Margaris in which she claimed, in a May 2020 complaint, the agency revealed discriminatory practices. 

Hill claimed that, between June 2018 and April 2020, the CHP promoted six men ahead of her who had not scored as highly as she on the agency’s assessment exams. 

But the central issue raised in the suit was a conversation between Hill and Margaris in Castaic, and Hill’s claim that Margaris essentially asked Hill how she could respond to emergency callouts as a captain when she had the duties of a single mom. 

In its trial briefing, the agency argued Margaris was asking if Hill had the adequate resources and support that she needed after a divorce, as her ex-husband also was a former CHP officer and known to both parties.  

However, the jury appeared to believe Hill’s version. 

“He definitely did not do himself any favors on the stand,” Hill said in a phone interview Thursday of the current division-chief’s testimony. 

Officer Luis Quintero, a spokesman for the CHP Southern Division, said the agency did not have a statement at this time in response to the verdict. 

A representative from Attorney General Rob Bonta’s office did not immediately respond to a request for a comment on whether the state plans to appeal the verdict. 

Hill said Thursday she was going back to work now that the incident was behind her, adding she “can’t retire just yet,” and she was aware of the potential that the state could challenge the verdict. 

She loves her job at the Castaic Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Facility, the environment there, and the people she works with, adding she hasn’t “brought this to the workplace at all,” she said. 

However, she also knows the lawsuit has impacted her career, and while she would have loved to put 30 years in for the department, that’s not the way she feels now.  

“I still plan on retiring at 50,” she said. “I would have gone longer on the career, but I can’t now. I can’t in good faith or in good conscience. My heart isn’t in it anymore to give them any more of my life and my time.” 

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