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City settles harassment suits

Ben Godar

The city of Burbank has reached what officials called a nominal

settlement with four current and former employees who alleged they

were the victims of harassment.


Brad Gage, the attorney representing the plaintiffs, confirmed

agreements were reached between the city and Richard Benson, Marjorie

George, Beverly Starleaf and Tina Staffon.

The plaintiffs, whose cases were resolved individually, alleged


they were subjected to a hostile work environment and harassed based

on factors including age, race and sex.

Assistant City Atty. Juli Scott said she was concerned Gage’s

disclosure of the settlements was a breach of the agreement. While

neither side disclosed the amounts of the settlements, Scott said

they were of a “nuisance value.”

“Compared to what they were asking for, it was extremely nominal,”

Scott said.


While Gage would not say he was satisfied by the settlement, he

suggested it was a compro- mise. “I’m often not satisfied, but I

don’t know that the other side is satisfied either,” he said.

“Sometimes the best ones are where neither side is totally


While settlements were reached with four of Gage’s clients, he

said former revenue officer Deborah McMurray’s lawsuit against the

city will go to trial in April. A judge recently ruled that


McMurray’s case, in which she alleges she was harassed based on age

and gender, has sufficient grounds to proceed to trial.

Despite the recent judgment, Scott called McMurray a “disgruntled

employee,” and said the case has no merit.

Scott also said the settlements in the other cases was not an

admission of guilt.

“The city didn’t do anything wrong and we didn’t admit that

through the settlement,” she said.