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Riverside Superior Judge Carol Greene denied on May 30 Riverside County’s request to throw out an employment case filed by one of its employed attorneys.

Spouses Hirbod and Jennifer Rashidi have worked as attorneys at Riverside County’s Division of Child Support Services Department since 2001, according to Hirbod’s complaint. Hirbod argues that since their 2019 marriage, their supervisor has discriminated against them based on their marriage. 

Jennifer is not named as a plaintiff on the complaint.

Jennifer was originally hired by the District Attorney’s Office in 1999, and Hirbod was hired by the DA’s Office in 2000. They worked together on cases from 2001 to 2019.

Hirbod alleges discrimination began two weeks after their marriage, when Chief Deputy Child Support Attorney Elizabeth Lawrence told Hirbod that he would no longer be able to work directly with Jennifer. Hirbod told Lawrence that this order was discriminatory, and Lawrence agreed with him and retracted the direction, according to the complaint. Neither of the spouses supervised the other. 

In 2020, Lawrence told Jennifer that the couple should not carpool to work, according to the complaint. Lawrence said she made the request so that only one of the two attorneys would have to leave work if there was an issue with the kids, according to Hirbod’s complaint.

In January 2021, Lawrence expressed concern about the Rashidis appearing in court together without a supervisor, according to Hirbod’s complaint. The department began requiring a third attorney to attend court sessions in which the Rashidis would appear together, the complaint said.

Despite the 2019 conversation, the Rashidis were no longer assigned to work together at the Hemet courthouse by April 2021, according to the complaint. Lawrence told the spouses that their work relationship would look bad to clients because of their personal relationship, the complaint said.

By May 2021, Hirbod was removed from the task of handling appellate work, a responsibility he held since 2001, according to the complaint.

In June 2021, Jennifer received a promotion to Attorney IV-S. Maichi Nguyen, Jennifer’s supervisor, told her that because her promotion caused her to be a supervisor, she would no longer be able to work with Hirbod, the complaint said. Jennifer denied any supervisory duties from the promotion.

In August 2021, Jennifer told DCSS Director Kimberly Britt that she was going to step down from her position due to the restrictions placed on her and Hirbod. Britt told Jennifer she was uncomfortable with them working together even if they were on the same occupational level, according to the complaint.

In February 2022, DCSS implemented a new policy that required attorneys in the Riverside office and at the Rashidis’ level to do preparation work for lower level attorneys. The Rashidis were the only two attorneys that qualified for the new policy. The work was previously done by paralegals, and resulted in neither of them appearing in court or mentoring junior attorneys. They also were not allowed to file pleadings.

DCSS supervisors denied Jennifer’s 2023 request to have Hirbod help with a writ project, despite his experience of arguing before the appellate court to argue for three cases that resulted in published appellate decisions.

In January 2024, Nguyen directed Hirbod to not appear for a subpoena to testify in a child support case. 

“(Hirbod) was tasked with paralegal and/or administrative support work to keep him busy as lower-level attorneys were assigned the higher-level tasks previously assigned to Attorney IV positions,” his complaint says.

He brought four causes of action, all based on Government Code Section 12940:

  1. Discrimination based on marital status
  2. Harassment
  3. Failure to prevent harassment and discrimination
  4. Retaliation based on marital status 

Riverside County asked for Greene to throw out the case. Their lawyers argued that any events before Feb. 29, 2021, cannot be litigated, because they are time-barred. They also argued that there was no adverse employment action, leading to the dismissal of his second claim. Since they argue the first two claims fail, Hirbod’s third and fourth claims for failure to prevent harassment and retaliation would fail as well.

Greene disagreed. She applied the continuing violation doctrine, which establishes that an employer is responsible for all acts in a continuing pattern of harassment, as long as the last acts were within the statutory period.

Greene also found that, if true, Hirbod’s allegation that only he and his wife were subject to their work reclassification would qualify as an adverse employment action due to their marital status.

Greene found that Hirbod’s second claim for harassment could not be thrown out because the change from an attorney to conducting paralegal work could qualify as harassment.

Because the harassment and discrimination claims were not thrown out, there was no basis to dismiss the remaining two claims, Greene found.

Case information

David Vasquez of San Bernardino represented Hirbod.

Teri Kirkwood of Manhattan Beach represented the county.

Case No. CVRI2401092

Read the complaint here.

Read the tentative ruling—which Greene later made official—here.


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