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Judge dismisses harassment case

The discrimination claims of a former Burbank Police Lt. are baseless, court rules.

May 24, 2011|By Gretchen Meier, gretchen.meier@latimes.com
  • Burbank Police Department's Lieutenant Omar Rodriguez (File Photo)
Burbank Police Department's Lieutenant Omar Rodriguez…

A Los Angeles County Superior Court judge has dismissed a major discrimination and harassment lawsuit filed by a former police lieutenant.

In filing the lawsuit, former Burbank Police Lt. Omar Rodriguez claimed he was placed on administrative leave in retaliation for complaining of an improper relationship between the police chief and the officers union.

He also claimed he suffered racial discrimination and “repeated acts of harassment.”

But in dismissing the claims last week, Superior Court Judge Joanna O’Donnell said they lacked merit, and Rodriguez’s bid to sue on behalf of other officers who allegedly faced harassment was unfounded.

Solomon Gresen, an attorney for Rodriguez in his discrimination lawsuit, said Tuesday that they had yet to determine their next move.

“We’re evaluating the decision and we’ll be filing an appeal when appropriate,” Gresen said. “Obviously we’re disappointed.”

Rodriguez, who filed his suit in 2009 with four other officers, was fired in April of last year. He was the highest-ranking officer to bring a discrimination lawsuit against the city.

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The court agreed with the city that Rodriguez could not “maintain a harassment suit on behalf of others who suffered harassment in the police department” nor did he prove he was placed on leave based on his national origin.

“The city is pleased that the court recognized the plaintiff’s allegations were without merit,” said city spokesman Keith Sterling in an email.

Rodriguez was also one of 12 officers whose records were subpoenaed as part of an FBI probe into excessive use of force and misconduct. He was also among a group officers involved in a separate probe that centered on the police response to a 2007 robbery of Porto's Bakery.

In November of 2009, Burbank police Det. Angelo Dahlia filed a civil rights lawsuit in U.S. District Court alleging that he was harassed by officers, including Rodriguez, after he witnessed the lieutenant place the barrel of his gun under a suspect's eye and threaten him.

Dahlia’s case — which alleges Rodriguez also threatened him — was dismissed at the federal court level, and is currently on appeal with the 9th District Court of Appeals.

In court filings for that case, attorneys for Rodriguez contended that the allegations about his conduct are “based on rumor and innuendo.”


 

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