LONG BEACH : Ex-City Employee Says Bias Cost Her a Job

A former city employee who suffers from multiple sclerosis sued the city this week, claiming she has been shut out of a job because of her illness.

In a Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit filed Tuesday, attorneys for Nancy I. Scrivens said the city had an obligation to retrain Scrivens after hip problems related to multiple sclerosis made her unable to continue work as a lab assistant.

Since receiving a diagnosis in October, 1992--about three years after she began her 39-hour-a-week job with the city--Scrivens was forced by the disease to take time off for hospitalization and recovery. She was given a temporary clerical assignment in 1993 but has not worked since hip-replacement surgery in February.

Scrivens asked the city for a new civil service assignment, but she has been offered only a 16-hour-a-week clerical position, which her attorney says is not enough.

"They've labeled her an invalid, and she's not," said attorney Ellen Serbin. "She wants to work. All she wants is a job."

Serbin has also filed claims with the federal Equal Employment and Opportunity Commission and the state Department of Fair Employment and Housing. The federal claim is being investigated. The state action has been suspended pending the civil suit. A claim filed with the city in May was rejected by the City Council in June.

Officials in the city attorney's office were unavailable for comment.

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