LOS ANGELES — A Glendale Fire Department battalion chief is suing the city, alleging he was subjected to a backlash when he reported that the then-fire chief was ordering him to provide the coronavirus vaccine in the early states of its release to city officials who were not yet eligible by law.
Brian Julian’s Los Angeles Superior Court retaliation suit seeks unspecified damages. A Glendale city official did not immediately reply to a request for comment on the suit brought Tuesday.
Julian was hired in September 1995 and rose through the ranks until he became a battalion chief in December 2016, then three years later he was promoted again to have the same rank within the GFD’s Emergency Medical Services, the suit states.
In December 2020, Julian was asked to assist the city in administering coronavirus vaccines during a three-phase plan enacted by Los Angeles County, the suit states.
The first phase of the vaccine allocation in the county applied to health care personnel, including personnel in emergency medical services, with the only exception allowed to prevent waste of the vaccine, the suit states.
However, in late December 2020 then-GFD Fire Chief Silvio Lanzas called Julian and told him that a Glendale City Council member and four city department heads would be coming over to receive the vaccine, even though none were qualified to receive the shot during the first phase, the suit states.
Julian reasonably believed that Lanzas’ order violated a federal, state or local regulation, the suit states.
In January 2021, Lanzas again instructed Julian to provide additional vaccine doses to other city department heads and City Council members, prompting the plaintiff to object, the suit states.
“In response, Lanzas became very angry with plaintiff and raised his voice …,” the suit states. “Further, Lanzas informed plaintiff that if (the plaintiff) refused to provide the vaccines to the various City Council members and department heads, Lanzas would provide them with the vaccines himself.”
According to another battalion chief, Lanzas was believed to be skirting the county’s COVID-19 vaccine regulations so that he could garner favors with the city of Glendale officials and departments heads, the suit states.
Less than two weeks later, Julian was removed from his assignment as EMS Chief and demoted to battalion chief of operations, a clear demotion in that it resulted in a pay decrease and had a negative impact on his ability to be promoted, the suit states.
Julian reported his concerns to the city’s human resources director, who took no action, the suit alleges.
Julian is still assigned as the battalion chief of operations. His reputation has been damaged and he has experienced financial losses and suffered emotional distress, the suit states.
Lanzas retired last April to take a leadership position in the private sector.
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