Mark R. Madler
A former Bob Hope Airport police officer is suing the airport
authority, the city and her former boss, alleging she was unfairly
fired when she rejected unwanted advances by a female supervisor
while off duty.
Elaine Ruiz, who filed the lawsuit on July 8 in Los Angeles County
Superior Court, is seeking unspecified monetary damages for loss of
earnings, back pay and emotional distress. The
Burbank-Glendale-Pasadena Airport Authority, the city of Burbank and
Sgt. Sheri Dillon were named as the defendants in the lawsuit.
Ruiz was let go as an airport police officer in March 2004 for
what she alleges was retaliation for not entering into a relationship
“Police departments are supposed to uphold the law not break the
law,” Ruiz’s attorney Brad Gage said. “It is illegal to harass and
illegal to retaliate.”
The authority could not comment on pending litigation, spokeswoman
Lucy Burghdorf said. Ruiz started at the airport police as a
probationary officer in September 2002 and she and Dillon spent time
together off-duty, the suit said.
Ruiz believed the friendship was an extension of the workplace,
and that she could be punished for challenging Dillon’s authority,
the suit said.
“They talked about all kinds of things,” Gage said, of the
off-duty hours conversations. “My client would talk about a boyfriend
and Sgt. Dillon talked about a girlfriend.”
Dillon made comments about Ruiz’s appearance and inappropriately
touched her at times, the suit alleges.
Ruiz received an “unacceptable” rating on her final evaluation by
Dillon, leading to her being terminated on March 23, 2004.
The timing of the termination was suspicious as the month before
Ruiz had tried to break off the off-duty relationship with Dillon,