The former spokesman for the Los Angeles County Superior Court has filed a complaint with federal authorities that accuses court administrators of discriminating against him on the basis of a longtime mental illness.
In the Dec. 13 request for an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission investigation, Allan Parachini alleged that supervisors fired him after they learned that his "chronic severe depression" had worsened and that his doctors were recommending he take a leave of absence, his second in less than a year.
His termination last month occurred three weeks after he was placed on administrative leave for what he says were false allegations that he leaked information to the gossip website TMZ.com. According to the EEOC filing provided to The Times by Parachini, his lawyer disclosed during severance negotiations that "his mental health condition had taken a turn for the worse" and that he needed short-term disability leave. Ten days later, settlement "discussions came to an abrupt end" and Parachini was fired, the filing states.
Court officials have refused to comment on Parachini's termination or his contention that the TMZ allegations were a pretext to cover a conflict with administrators and judges over compliance with public records requests by the media. A court public information officer declined to comment on the EEOC filing Monday.
An EEOC spokeswoman said filings are confidential and could not confirm whether Parachini had requested an investigation. Such a request is often the first step toward filing a civil lawsuit.
In an interview, Parachini said he was seeking "a fair financial settlement." He said he had been treated for depression for a decade and his supervisors were aware that the illness was the cause of a six-week leave of absence last winter. He said that when the symptoms intensified this fall, he did not tell them because his doctors initially believed he would improve with new medication and he felt his job performance was unchanged.
He said that when he was placed on leave, he did not tell his supervisor about his condition "because it would've seemed like I was making an excuse."
"I didn't think I had anything to apologize for in terms of how well I do my job and ultimately that's the measure," he said.