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Longtime city employee claims discrimination

Iranian says ethnicity and age hindered promotion in transportation dept.

A longtime San Diego city employee has sued for discrimination, claiming that his Iranian descent and age kept him from moving up the ranks in the transportation department.

Seyed Ahmadi, 62, has worked as a traffic engineer for over 27 years. During that time, Ahmadi claims he was denied promotions on 25 occasions. Over the decades, those interviewing him said he lacked "well-rounded experience," "supervisory experience," and because he was not a "registered" engineer.

Even after addressing those supposed shortcomings, his supervisors continued to go with younger and less-experienced applicants, none of whom were of Iranian descent, says the complaint, and none were older than 40 years of age. Frustrated by the trend, Ahmadi began to keep track of the applicants and how old they were. By his calculations, 18 employees promoted ahead of him had an average age of 27.

"Plaintiff then spent 17 years working in the traffic operations department, where he gained significant expertise. Nonetheless, when he applied for promotions, other employees with virtually no experience in traffic operations were promoted over Plaintiff," reads the lawsuit.

The final straw came last year, when the city filled four "associate traffic engineer" positions. Once again, Ahmadi was left out. He subsequently filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Six months later, supervisors informed him he was being demoted to a data-processing position. And, when he began to complain about the onset of carpal tunnel syndrome, supervisors assigned him to work as a bicycle coordinator.

"As a proximate result of defendant's continuing discrimination...[Ahmadi] has suffered and continues to suffer substantial losses incurred in earnings, bonuses, deferred compensation, retirement and benefits, and other employment benefits and has suffered and continues to suffer embarrassment, humiliation, harm to reputation and mental anguish all to his damage in an amount according to proof."

Ahmadi's lawsuit now makes two filed against the city in the span of a month. As reported by the Reader, on March 4, Alice Daniels, a 24-year city employee, accused her bosses of racial discrimination after she was passed over for younger, less experienced, non–African-American candidates.

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A longtime San Diego city employee has sued for discrimination, claiming that his Iranian descent and age kept him from moving up the ranks in the transportation department.

Seyed Ahmadi, 62, has worked as a traffic engineer for over 27 years. During that time, Ahmadi claims he was denied promotions on 25 occasions. Over the decades, those interviewing him said he lacked "well-rounded experience," "supervisory experience," and because he was not a "registered" engineer.

Even after addressing those supposed shortcomings, his supervisors continued to go with younger and less-experienced applicants, none of whom were of Iranian descent, says the complaint, and none were older than 40 years of age. Frustrated by the trend, Ahmadi began to keep track of the applicants and how old they were. By his calculations, 18 employees promoted ahead of him had an average age of 27.

"Plaintiff then spent 17 years working in the traffic operations department, where he gained significant expertise. Nonetheless, when he applied for promotions, other employees with virtually no experience in traffic operations were promoted over Plaintiff," reads the lawsuit.

The final straw came last year, when the city filled four "associate traffic engineer" positions. Once again, Ahmadi was left out. He subsequently filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission. Six months later, supervisors informed him he was being demoted to a data-processing position. And, when he began to complain about the onset of carpal tunnel syndrome, supervisors assigned him to work as a bicycle coordinator.

"As a proximate result of defendant's continuing discrimination...[Ahmadi] has suffered and continues to suffer substantial losses incurred in earnings, bonuses, deferred compensation, retirement and benefits, and other employment benefits and has suffered and continues to suffer embarrassment, humiliation, harm to reputation and mental anguish all to his damage in an amount according to proof."

Ahmadi's lawsuit now makes two filed against the city in the span of a month. As reported by the Reader, on March 4, Alice Daniels, a 24-year city employee, accused her bosses of racial discrimination after she was passed over for younger, less experienced, non–African-American candidates.

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