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Discrimination case headed for jury

Jackson Bell

A jury will consider the merits of a wrongful-termination lawsuit

filed by a Burbank city employee after attorneys on both sides

delivered closing arguments this week.

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Deborah McMurray, 57, a revenue clerk in the city’s Park,

Recreation and Community Services Department, sued the city in March

2001, alleging age and gender discrimination. According to her

attorney, Brad Gage, McMurray was subjected to a hostile work

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environment when she complained about the treatment.

McMurray, who has been on medical leave since filing the lawsuit,

is seeking more than $1 million in damages.

Four other city employees represented by Gage also sued the city

for discrimination, but settled their cases out of court in March.

McMurray was offered $1,000, but declined to settle.

Gage, who used a timeline in court this week to chronicle the

city’s alleged pattern of discrimination against McMurray, questioned

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whether his client’s accusations of discrimination were properly

investigated.

“There are two possibilities -- either [the defense lawyers] lied

about the investigation, or there was discrimination so they

concealed it from the jury,” Gage said. “Without an investigation,

there is no corrective action. And without corrective action,

discrimination continues.”

Irma Rodriquez Moisa, the attorney representing the city of

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Burbank, contends that McMurray was upset because she had to compete

for new jobs instead of being promoted without having to apply. When

she was passed over for other candidates, Moisa continued, McMurray

accused the city of discrimination instead of “recognizing her own

shortcomings.”

Moisa further refuted allegations of discrimination by pointing

out that City Manager Mary Alvord is a woman over the age of 40, and

that former City Manager Bud Ovrom had a reputation for promoting

women within city offices.

“Mrs. McMurray’s allegations were exaggerated, fabricated and

misleading,” Moisa said. “She turned a lot of mole hills into

mountains.”

Opening statements in the trial began Oct. 10. Gage and Moisa

expect the jury deliberation to begin Monday and last anywhere from

two to five days.

Earlier this year, Gage represented three female Glendale Police

Officers who sued the city for sexual harassment and won a combined

$3.5-million jury award. Moisa represented the city of Glendale in

that case.


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