Echo Park -- The former CEO of Gateways Hospital and Mental Health Center reached a settlement today in her lawsuit alleging she was the victim of retaliation and gender discrimination when she was fired in 2017.
Lawyers for 62-year-old Mara Pelsman and Gateways informed Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Ruth Kwan of the resolution on the second day of the trial of her lawsuit, but no terms were divulged. The judge subsequently dismissed the jury that heard opening statements and initial testimony in the case on Wednesday.
Pelsman alleged she was initially demoted -- and ultimately fired in May 2017 -- from the $250,000-a-year position after repeatedly expressing concerns about the Board of Directors' actions that she believed potentially jeopardized the nonprofit hospital's ability to provide safe patient care.
The all-male board promoted a less-qualified male subordinate in her place, treated her with hostility, excluded her from discussions in which she had a right to participate, restricted her authority, placed her on leave and ultimately fired her, according to her suit.
"Having lost her job was the most devastating thing that happened to Ms. Pelsman," plaintiff's attorney Shaleen Shanbhag said in her opening statement. "All she wanted to do was make sure Gateways operated lawfully."
Gateways attorney John Barber told jurors that there was no evidence that Pelsman was retaliated against or treated different because she is a woman.
"Gateways did absolutely nothing wrong in this case," Barber said. "She got to the point where she believed her judgment was all that mattered."
The hospital and treatment center is headquartered in Echo Park and operates facilities in Boyle Heights, Silver Lake and other locations. It was founded more than 60 years ago by social worker Louis Ziskind founded Gateways as a "community mental health center" to help individual return to normal life through drug and psychotherapy, according to his L.A. Times obituary.