A federal judge Monday dismissed a discrimination lawsuit filed by a former Burbank police officer, ruling his claims are moot because he has yet to complete the city’s appeals process.
Elfego Rodriguez, who is of Guatemalan descent, stated in court documents that he was fired in June 2010 due to his ethnicity, and not due to an excessive force allegation, a claim he has maintained is bogus. U.S. District Judge George Wu, however, ruled that Rodriguez needed to allow the city’s internal process to run its course prior to filing suit. After that is completed, Rodriguez would have the right to refile the federal claim.
Rodriguez is currently fighting to get his job back through the city’s appeals process. In June, a multiday administrative hearing was held before an arbitrator, federal court documents show. The arbitrator will make a recommendation to City Manager Mike Flad, who will then make a decision about Rodriguez’s employment.
City spokesman Keith Sterling said the process is ongoing, and he said it was unclear when Flad would be receiving the arbitrator’s recommendation.
Rodriguez’s attorney, Solomon Gresen, who represents the former officer in a separate state lawsuit, said he would evaluate how the city process plays out.
“If they put him back in his job, that’s one thing,” Gresen said. “If they don’t put him back in his job, that’s another thing and then he goes ahead and has the option of taking the writ process.”
If either side is unhappy with the decision made in the city administrative process, a writ could be filed in Los Angeles Superior Court. The writ process would be focused on Rodriguez’s employment, while a federal suit would be focused on monetary damages.
The federal court has ruled “to wait and see” how the city matter is resolved, Gresen said.
“We intend to abide by that and wait and see.”
-- Maria Hsin, Times Community News