Court dismisses ex-Telesource staff’s $2M disability suit for 3rd time

The U.S. District Court for the NMI has dismissed again the $2-million employment discrimination lawsuit filed by a former employee of the then-Telesource CNMI Inc. against his former employers over his alleged termination due to his disability.

In her order Monday, Chief Judge Ramona V. Manglona found that Garabed O. Mirzoian has failed to state a claim on which relief can be granted because he failed to timely pursue administrative remedies with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission or any other agency that is authorized to investigate his discrimination claim.

Because of these circumstances, Manglona said, the second amended complaint is dismissed with prejudice since it would be futile to amend Mirzoian’s complaint a third time.

That means Mirzoian can no longer re-file his lawsuit.

Mirzoian is suing former Telesource chief executive officer Nidal Z. Zayed and general manager Michael N. El-Rahl for wrongful termination, employment discrimination, disability discrimination, for pain and suffering, and emotional distress. He filed the complaint without a lawyer.

Telesource has changed its name to Pernix Group Inc. and El-Rahl and Zayed are now based in the company’s offices in Fiji Islands and Illinois, respectively.

According to Mirzoian, Telesource terminated him in 2006 after he got injured in a vehicular accident involving two buses. He said he suffered serious injuries during the accident that occurred while he was employed with Telesource.

In February 2016, the District Court dismissed the case due to Mirzoian’s failure to establish that he was entitled to equitable tolling of the 180-day period to file a charge with the EEOC or a 300-day period if he first files a charge with an authorized state agency.

In this case, the actions complained of occurred in 2006, and Mirzoian did not file charges with EEOC until 2015.

Because plaintiff did not explain why he is now suing after over nine years, the District Court dismissed the complaint without prejudice. Mirzoian was allowed to refile the case to address this deficiency.

Mirzoian then filed a first amended complaint.

In January 2018, Manglona dismissed again the lawsuit for lack of jurisdiction, concluding that the plaintiff failed to exhaust his administrative remedies.

Manglona determined that the amended complaint fails to comply with the court’s prior order.

Manglona directed the clerk of court to close the case. Mirzoian appealed.

In July 2018, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit vacated the dismissal. Ninth Circuit judges pointed out that it is not clear from the District Court’s order whether the court considered the effect of Mirzoian’s filing of the complaint with the CNMI Department of Labor on the issue of exhaustion of administrative orders.

The Ninth Circuit judges remanded Mirzoian’s case for the District Court to consider whether the plaintiff could be deemed to have constructively filed his claims with EEOC on the day he filed his charge with CNMI Labor, and therefore exhausted his administrative remedies at that time.

Mirzoian then filed his second amended complaint for wrongful termination, misrepresentation, and employment discrimination.

In dismissing the second amended complaint Monday, Manglona said the CNMI Department of Labor did not hold itself out to Mirzoian as having the authority to handle workplace discrimination claims.

Moreover, Manglona said, in sitting back and waiting for months and years, and not following up with Labor on whether they would act on his complaint, Mirzoian did not exercise diligence.

Ferdie De La Torre | Reporter
Ferdie Ponce de la Torre is a veteran journalist who has covered all news beats in the CNMI. Born in Lilo-an, Cebu City in the Philippines, De la Torre graduated from the University of Santo Tomas with a bachelor’s degree in journalism. He is a recipient of many commendations and awards, including the CNMI Judiciary’s prestigious Justice Award for his over 10 years of reporting on the judiciary’s proceedings and decisions. Contact him at ferdie_delatorre@saipantribune.com
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