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Jury awards $1.5M in discrimination suit

Jackson Bell

A jury awarded a longtime city employee more than $1.5 million late Thursday, finding that she was subjected to disability

discrimination, attorneys said.

Deborah McMurray was awarded $1,501,567 in damages and an


additional $33,000 for the city’s failure to meet reasonable

accommodations for her disability, said Stephen Love, one of her


“This is a situation where Mrs. McMurray was a valuable employee


who had consistently received outstanding reviews and thinks she was

discriminated against on the basis of her disability,” Love said.

“Although she tried to resolve her differences with the city, it left

her no option but to litigate the case.”

McMurray, 57, a revenue clerk in the Park, Recreation and

Community Services Depart- ment, sued the city in March 2001,

alleging age, gender and disability discrimination. McMurray, who has

been on medical leave since filing the lawsuit, was seeking more than


$1 million in damages.

A jury of 11 women and one man, which deliberated for three days,

didn’t find that McMurray was subjected to age and gender


“We’re just happy to see the system work, and she would just like

to put this behind her,” he added.

Irma Rodriguez Moisa, the attorney representing the city of

Burbank, and her co-counsel, Sergio Bent, were unavailable for


comment Friday.

Brad Gage, lead counsel for the plaintiff, said during the case

that McMurray was subjected to a hostile work environment when she

complained about the discrimination. He also said she was passed over

for promotions in favor of younger, less qualified employees. Gage

was out of town Friday and unavailable for comment.

Four other plaintiffs sued the city along with McMurray in May

2001, but settled out of court in March. McMurray declined to settle

after she was offered $1,000.

Moisa had contended that McMurray was upset because she had to

compete for new jobs instead of being promoted without having to

apply and blamed the city instead of “recognizing her own


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.