City Reaches Settlement in Discrimination Lawsuit

Posted by on Feb 19th, 2015 and filed under Glendale, News. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

By Ted AYALA

The City of Glendale has finally reached a settlement with the last plaintiff in a federal lawsuit that had been pending against the Glendale Police Dept. (GPD). The lawsuit alleged mistreatment and retaliation against officers from ethnic minority backgrounds.

The settlement with plaintiff John Balian, a former member of the GPD, was reached last month, resulting in the lawsuit’s being dismissed earlier this week.

In the settlement agreement, the city agreed to pay $7,500 in attorney’s fees for Balian. It also agreed to deposit into his leave bank 250 hours worth of sick time and 50 hours of vacation time.

According to the terms of the settlement, Glendale denies any admission of liability for any wrongdoing.

Balian had been, along with former GPD officers Vahak Mardikian, Tigran Topadzhikyan, Robert Parseghian and Benny Simonzad, one of the plaintiffs in a high-profile lawsuit alleging that the GPD engaged in discriminatory practices against Armenian-American officers.

Among the accusations in the lawsuit were allegations that the GPD and its former chief Ron De Pompa “[used] administrative leave and internal affairs investigations as reckless abuse
of power to intimidate and retaliate, as well as to send a fearful message to other employees that, if they engage the department in litigation or support those who do, they too will be subjected to the same type of treatment.”

In an interview with the Crescenta Valley Weekly in 2010, lawyer Carney Shegerian, who represented the plaintiffs, said that her clients had made it “real clear” that they had “extremely strong stories and evidence about what had gone on in Glendale.”

“As a group and individually they just described … being treated as second class citizens,” she said.”

Calls to Shegerian’s office seeking comment were not answered.

De Pompa had strongly denied any misconduct in 2010.

“We are absolutely committed to … diversity. We simply can’t do [our jobs] without it,” he said. “[My] firm belief is that our environment is free of discrimination, harassment and retaliation.”

Two other officers, Marc Mendoza and Tyrone Hunter, of Filipino and African-American descent respectively, would later also file suit against the city alleging similar mistreatment.

The other officers in Balian’s lawsuit all eventually settled or had their cases dismissed.

A federal jury in 2013 tossed Topadzhikyan’s claim that he had been discriminated against.

Persegian, Simonzad and Mardikian all settled with the city.

Mardikian’s settlement raised eyebrows last year when it was learned that Las Vegas police had arrested him attempting to solicit a prostitute in an undercover sting. That case is still under investigation.

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