A firefighter is suing the cities of Los Angeles and Riverside, alleging he has been unable to find work because of the actions of his two former employers in the aftermath of an on-duty injury he suffered in 2017.
Joseph Camarillo says in his lawsuit filed Tuesday that the Los Angeles Fire Department fired him in January 2019 after accusing him of lying about his medical history while with the Riverside Fire Department. But he maintains he suffered a backlash for asking that the LAFD reasonably accommodate him for his injury and for “generally attempting to protect and secure his rights and the rights of others.”
The Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit’s allegations include discrimination, failure to accommodate, retaliation and intentional interference with prospective economic advantage. Camarillo seeks unspecified damages.
Representatives for the two cities could not be immediately reached for comment.
Camarillo was hurt on the job while working for the RFD in May 2017 and was taken off work by his doctor, the suit states. He returned to work on light duty and a deputy chief yelled at him for getting injured, according to the complaint.
Camarillo shortly thereafter resumed full duty at the prodding of the deputy chief despite the work limitations placed on him by his doctor, the suit states. But he was hurt again on duty in August 2017, according to the suit.
He was cleared to work full duty in November 2017, but the city’s doctor did not allow him to do so until April 2018, so Camarillo applied for and obtained a firefighting job with the LAFD in May 2018 and began duties there two months later, the suit states.
However, in late 2018, Camarillo was told by his LAFD bosses that he had to fill out another medical evaluation form even though he previously did so earlier that year, the suit states. He was also ordered to work form home and not told anything about the investigation, the suit states.
After Camarillo was fired, he found out that the same RFD deputy chief with whom he clashed earlier had met with LAFD supervisors about his medical condition and his ability to work as a firefighter, according to the suit.
“In addition to the termination from LAFD, plaintiff has been unable to obtain employment from other agencies,” the suit states.
The suit alleges the RFD intentionally interfered with Camarillo’s working relationship with the LAFD and knew that providing his medical information to the LAFD could cause him to lose his job.