Wrongful termination at community college. $2.9M. Los Angeles County.
Cafeteria worker says her disability was not accommodated and that she was fired.
- Case Name: Shirvanyan v. Los Angeles Community College District
- Court and Case Number: Los Angeles Superior Court / BC 633224
- Date of Verdict or Judgment: Tuesday, December 18, 2018
- Date Action was Filed: Thursday, September 08, 2016
- Type of Action: Employment, Wrongful Termination
- Judge or Arbitrator(s): Hon. Stephanie M. Bowick
- Plaintiffs: Anahit Shirvanyan, 61, kitchen worker.
- Defendants: Los Angeles Community College District
- Type of Result: Jury Verdict
- Gross Verdict or Award: $2,899,670
- Economic Damages:
- Non-Economic Damages:
- Punitive Damages:
Not available (Government entity).
- Trial or Arbitration Time: 9 days.
- Jury Deliberation Time: 1 day.
- Post Trial Motions & Post-Verdict Settlements: Defendant has filed a motion for new trial and partial JNOV, which is currently pending. Plaintiff has filed a motion for attorneys' fees, the ruling of which is currently pending.
- Attorney for the Plaintiff:
Shegerian & Associates by Anthony Nguyen, Mark Lim and Mahru Madjidi, Santa Monica.
Rostomyan Law, PC by Aram Rostomyan, Pasadena.
- Attorney for the Defendant:
Carlson & Messer LLP by Charles Messer and Grace Felipe, Los Angeles.
- Plaintiff’s Medical Expert(s):
Anthony E. Reading, Ph.D., psychology, Beverly Hills.
- Defendant's Medical Expert(s):
- Plaintiff's Technical Expert(s):
Mark Falkenhagen, economics, Los Angeles.
Facts and Background
- Facts and Background:
Anahit Shirvanyan, a 61-year-old kitchen worker, filed an employment lawsuit against Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD) in relation to the Fair Employment and Housing Act’s requirements for employers to engage in the interactive process and provide reasonable accommodations.
Plaintiff was employed for over eight years, beginning in 2007. She was diagnosed with carpal tunnel syndrome in 2012.
- Plaintiff's Contentions:
Plaintiff alleged that LACCD failed to engage in the interactive process despite knowledge of her physical condition limiting her ability to work, i.e., her nerve injury and carpel tunnel syndrome, and subsequently failed to accommodate her disability on numerous occasions, ultimately leading to her employment termination.
That her carpal tunnel syndrome resulted from repeatedly lifting heavy objects at work and that two different supervisors at Los Angeles Valley College denied her requests for assistance with tasks at work that exacerbated her condition.
That her carpal tunnel syndrome began in 2012, and she began requesting accommodation in 2014. That after she presented a doctor's note regarding her injury in January 2016 there was no contact from defendant regarding the status of her employment and she believed herself to have been terminated.
- Defendant's Contentions:
LACCD contended that it was unaware that she required any accommodations and was not required to engage in the interactive process.
Regarding plaintiff's employment status after submission of the doctor's note, defendant took a few positions: one, that she resigned and, two, that she was separated per the expiration of her job term.
- Special Damages Claimed - Past Lost Earnings: $57,639
- Special Damages Claimed - Future Lost Earnings: $67,031
Demands and Offers
- Plaintiff §998 Demand: $100,000