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Glendale settles employee's discrimination suit for $200,000

Glendale officials this week agreed to pay a Filipino American employee $200,000 and allow her to retire at her highest salary level to settle claims that her demotion was based on discrimination and insider politics.

The settlement comes after three months of hearings, the Glendale News-Press reported.

City officials contend that Edith Fuentes, who once held one of the city's most powerful decision-making positions, did not perform her job well.

Since 2007, Fuentes' job functions have been reduced, and last year she was demoted from planning administrator to planner, which meant an almost 30% drop in salary.

"I'm just happy this is over and finalized," Fuentes said Wednesday after her last hearing with the Civil Service Commission, which oversees employee relations.

According to the settlement, Fuentes has agreed to take an unpaid administrative leave through Sept. 10 and then retire, but she will receive a $200,000 payment immediately.

Her pension will be based on her annual salary as planning administrator at $129,240. Because she worked for the city for 19 years, she will make roughly half her annual salary and receive retirement benefits as required by her California Public Employees' Retirement System contract.

As a planner she made $89,472.

City Atty. Mike Garcia said the settlement was a mutual decision but declined to comment further.

The city contended that her quality of work had been declining and that an audit of her work found 10 cases in which she demonstrated a lack of basic understanding of permit requirements and held inappropriate one-on-one meetings with applicants.

But one of her attorneys, Robert Racine, said the report cherry-picked cases that had political undertones.

"It's an orchestrated lynching. They wanted her out. They did whatever they could to get her out," said Racine during proceedings earlier this month.

Fuentes claimed that, in addition to being rooted in ethnic and gender discrimination, her demotion may have been in retaliation for a successful lawsuit she filed in 2000 in which she claimed a supervisor harassed her based on her background. As part of that settlement, Fuentes received a public apology from city officials.

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-- Brittany Levine, Times Community News

 
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