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Burbank hit with age and race discrimination lawsuit

Man says his race and age were factors in being denied engineering jobs.

October 01, 2013|By Alene Tchekmedyian, alene.tchekmedyian@latimes.com

A Burbank man filed a lawsuit against the city of Burbank last month claiming age and race discrimination after he was not hired for several city jobs for which he said he was qualified. 

Marco Gonzalez, 49, claimed he was passed over for employment nine out of the 11 times he applied for a city job. His two most recent job applications are pending, according to his lawsuit.

Burbank City Atty. Amy Albano said Tuesday she has no indication the city didn’t follow its hiring protocols in this case. 

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“The city has hiring practices that we follow, and the reason we have those practices is to make sure we don’t have issues like this come up,” Albano said. 

In 2009, Gonzalez applied for an engineering technician position. According to his lawsuit, he was told he didn’t get the position because he didn’t take a college algebra course, a requirement for the position. Gonzalez, who earned a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Cal State Los Angeles, said he fulfilled his algebra requirement in high school. 

An email Gonzalez claims came from city officials informing him why he didn’t get the job also noted the city received several hundred applications, many of which “not only met the minimum qualifications” but also had more education and experience than required. 

The following year, Gonzalez applied for an electrical apprentice position with the city, for which he qualified for an interview after passing a written and physical exam, according to his lawsuit. During the interview, his photograph was taken, which he claimed was used to discriminate against him. 

In his lawsuit, Gonzalez said he is a certified electrician with 10 years of field experience in construction. He identifies himself as Hispanic, with graying hair.

He was not hired in 2010 — nor after the three subsequent times he applied for the same position — and alleged that those who were hired were in their 20s, and had less education and experience than him. Gonzalez claimed he was “denied the opportunity to fairly compete for and obtain employment with the city of Burbank more than once because of his age, race and ethnicity.” 

Gonzalez, who is representing himself, is seeking $15 million in punitive damages and an undetermined amount in general damages, according to his lawsuit.

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Follow Alene Tchekmedyian on Google+ and on Twitter: @atchek.

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