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Fireman Who Sued Glendale Dismissed

October 15, 1987|STEPHANIE O'NEILL | Times Staff Writer

A Jewish Orthodox firefighter who filed a $10-million religious discrimination lawsuit against the City of Glendale in May was fired from his job this week, a city official said.

Michael Pomeranz, 33, a five-year veteran of the Glendale Fire Department, was fired Tuesday for refusing to be examined by a city-appointed psychiatrist, said City Atty. Frank R. Manzano.

Pomeranz, who could not be reached for comment, has five days to appeal the decision.

City officials ordered the psychiatric examination after Pomeranz took a two-week medical leave in February. Pomeranz said he took the leave for what he contends was mental stress caused by his fight with the department to wear his yarmulke at all times while on duty and to have every Saturday off to observe the Jewish Sabbath. Later that month, Pomeranz was allowed to return to his job as fire inspector--but only if he received clearance from a psychiatrist, Manzano said.

But in May, Pomeranz was ordered off the job because he continued to refuse a city-ordered medical evaluation.

All Glendale city employees who take medical leave must first visit a psychiatrist before returning to work, Manzano said.

"Anytime we feel an individual needs proper care, medical or otherwise, we have the right to send him for an examination to see if he is fit to perform the duties of his job," Manzano said.

In his lawsuit, Pomeranz said the city discriminated against him by refusing him a firefighting assignment that was compatible with his religious practices. Pomeranz alleged that, in order to wear his skullcap on duty and to have the Jewish Sabbath free, he was forced to accept a Monday-through-Friday desk job in the fire prevention bureau.

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