For the second time an ex-police officer terminated by the city of Burbank filed a federal lawsuit against the city alleging he was wrongfully terminated. The officer, Elfego Rodriguez, was one of ten Burbank officers fired for allegedly using excessive force in a 2007 robbery investigation. Rodriguez has denied the allegations from the beginning of the case and maintains that he was actually fired because of racial discrimination and harassment.
The lawsuit was originally filled against the city several years ago, but the judge dismissed the case because Rodriguez had failed to exhaust his remedies within the police department.
In response the city of Burbank claims that Rodriguez was fired for lying about assaulting a misidentified robbery suspect. The city had explained past proceedings about the termination that Rodriguez had allegedly intimidated witnesses and hid evidence to try to defend his reputation. However, Rodriguez claims that the city officials devised a plan to retaliate against the former officer by accusing him of illegal conduct that he did not commit.
Racial Discrimination and Wrongful Termination
Title VII of the Civil Rights Act and California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act both make discrimination in employment illegal. There are two forms of discrimination disparate treatment, and disparate impact. Disparate treatment is when an employee is the victim of explicit prejudice, or poor treatment because of his or her membership in a protected class. Disparate impact on the other hand prevents an employer from using practices that on their face seem neutral but actually cause a detriment to employees of a protected class. When an employee complains that they were subject to discrimination an employer may not retaliate against them.
If an individual is retaliated against or harassed for complaining of racist treatment they may file a lawsuit against their employer. In these cases the employee must make an initial allegation that the employer had taken adverse employment action against them after they had made a complaint for discrimination. The employer then has a chance to rebut this showing by giving evidence that the adverse action was taken for legitimate non discriminatory reasons.
California employers may not racially discriminate against their employees nor retaliate when employees make complaints about discrimination. If your employer has wrongfully terminated you or retaliated against you for reporting discrimination contact the experienced California Employment Law attorneys of the Law Offices of Michael S. Cunningham, LLP. Call (951) 213-4786 to schedule a free consultation.