CITY HALL — The airport security officer who sued City Hall claiming he was denied a promotion based on his race and age settled his case for $200,000 and an agreement to leave his position.

City Attorney Marsha Moutrie reported Tuesday that the case was “strenuously contested” by both sides, but that Vonnell Adams, an African-American with 17 years as an employee at the Santa Monica Airport, agreed to take the money and leave his post.

Adams, 56, was disappointed with the settlement and felt “set up.”

“I didn’t get a fair deal,” Adams said, reiterating that he wasn’t sure if he wanted to go to court because of the unsure outcome of bringing a case before a jury.

Adams filed suit in 2010 claiming that his supervisors improperly promoted a Latino colleague by circumventing the agency’s normal promotion procedures.

He alleged that this was one instance in a pattern of racially-motivated hirings that excluded African Americans over the course of his 17 years on the job.

A complaint filed in the Los Angeles Federal Court pointed out numerous instances of what Adams believed to be preference given to Latino employees over African Americans.

In one instance described in the complaint, Officer Leo Iniguez helped Sgt. Jeff Wiles conduct a search for a new police assistant. An African-American woman was a member of the candidate pool.

According to the complaint, Iniguez insinuated to Adams that she would not be hired for the position because “she’s black.”

Adams alleged that this attitude went further, and ultimately led to Iniguez being promoted to lead airport service officer at the SMO substation over Adams himself, despite the fact that Adams passed the promotional exam and received satisfactory job performance reviews.

Deputy City Attorney Anthony Serritella told the Daily Press the day before Adams’ trial began that the promotion process was done by the book.

In the complaint, Adams and his attorney allege that he had more experience than Iniguez and that Iniguez routinely flouted airport policy by dumping trash, storing personal property at the airport and even burying his dog there.

Iniguez’ behavior makes him “unworthy of the job,” Adams said.

“I reported the crime, but I’m prosecuted for his crimes,” Adams said. “He still has a job, a career, a family. He has everything, and I’m out on the street.”

Adams is currently on sick leave from his position at the airport. His last day is March 30.

ashley@www.smdp.com

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