CITY HALL — A Glendale police officer filed a lawsuit against the city this week, claiming he was unfairly demoted because of his friendship with another officer suing the Police Department for discrimination.
In January, four Armenian officers and a former officer filed a federal lawsuit against the department, alleging repeated on-the-job racial discrimination and harassment.
This week, police Officer Marc Mendoza filed a separate lawsuit in Los Angeles County Superior Court alleging that he was recently demoted from detective to patrol officer because of his friendship with Sgt. Vahak Mardikian, one of the five plaintiffs in the other case.
In 2007, Mardikian filed a lawsuit in state court alleging he was denied several promotions and the right to return to work as a full-duty officer after a knee injury because of his race, but dropped the case shortly before filing the federal lawsuit.
City spokesman Ritch Wells rebutted the allegations.
“The city of Glendale and the Glendale Police Department do not tolerate discrimination, harassment or retaliation,” he said in a statement. “We are currently reviewing Marc Mendoza’s complaint and look forward to the opportunity to vigorously defend against the allegations.”
Mendoza was notified in April that he would be transferred from his detective position on the department’s burglary detail to patrol duty because his superiors had received complaints from the community and other police officers, according to the lawsuit.
But Mendoza alleges the demotion was because of his friendship with Mardikian. In the lawsuit he detailed other incidents in which he claims he was harassed and retaliated against by his supervisors and was warned to end his association with Mardikian to save his job.
Mendoza’s lawyer, Casey Shegerian, who is also representing Mardikian and the other officers, said his client’s case is an example of systemic mistreatment of Armenian officers spreading to others in the department.
“How the Glendale Police Department could turn around and demote him because he was associated with, friendly to and supportive of Armenian officers asserting their civil rights is tragic,” he said in a statement.
Mendoza is suing for general and special damages.
Mendoza has been employed with the department since 1992, according to the lawsuit. He was promoted to detective in 2007.
Get in touch MELANIE HICKEN covers City Hall. She may be reached at (818) 637-3235 or by e-mail at melanie. firstname.lastname@example.org.