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Discrimination lawsuit dismissed after city reaches settlement with police officer

A federal discrimination lawsuit against the city of Glendale was dismissed last week after the city reached a settlement with the police officer.

John Balian was one of five Armenian-American Glendale police officers who filed a joint lawsuit in 2010 against the city and the Glendale Police Department, alleging discrimination, retaliation and harassment.

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Last month, the city agreed to pay $7,500 in Balian's attorney's fees, and deposit 250 hours of sick time and 50 hours of vacation time into his leave bank, according to the settlement agreement, which was released by the city.

City Atty. Mike Garcia called the outcome "favorable" for the city.

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"It's obviously not a huge dollar figure," Garcia said, adding that the settlement comes out to a little less than two months of pay. "We thought, overall, it was a good settlement for the city."

The fact that the city is entering into the agreement is "not an admission of any liability whatsoever for any wrongdoing," according to the settlement.

Balian's attorney Carney Shegerian could not be reached for comment.

In the complaint, Balian and the other officers — Lt. Tigran Topadzhikyan, Officer Robert Parseghian, Sgt. Vahak Mardikian and former Officer Benny Simonzad — claimed they suffered on-the-job discrimination, retaliation and harassment because they're Armenian. They also claimed they were looked over for promotions and denied career-building opportunities.

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In 2013, a federal jury rejected Topadzhikyan's claim that he was harassed and discriminated against because of his ethnicity.

Meanwhile, the city reached settlement agreements with Parseghian, Simonzad and Mardikian last year.

Parseghian and Simonzad each received $7,500 in attorney's fees, according to their settlement agreements.

Mardikian has been and will continue to receive $10,579 a month in paid leave through the end of 2015, after which he will be required to retire.

A few months after his settlement agreement was reached, Mardikian was arrested in Las Vegas on suspicion of soliciting a prostitute, who happened to be an undercover police detective. The case remains ongoing.

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