Social Worker Fired Over Torture Death of Palmdale Boy Gabriel Fernandez Can Return to Work: Judge

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Gabriel Fernandez is seen in this photo provided by his family.

Gabriel Fernandez is seen in this photo provided by his family.

A Los Angeles County Department of Children and Family Services supervisor who was fired following the torture death of 8-year-old Gabriel Fernandez will regain his pay and benefits, a judge ruled Tuesday.

Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge James Chalfant ordered the county to reinstate the compensation for Gregory Merritt as he awaits a hearing, scheduled for May, to decide whether he will permanently regain his $107,000 job, according to DCFS spokesman Armand Montiel. In the meantime, he will work from home with still-to-be-determined responsibilities.

Merritt successfully appealed his firing to L.A. County’s civil service commission, but county lawyers blocked his return when they appealed the decision in Chalfant’s courtroom, saying he “egregiously” missed multiple opportunities to save 8-year-old Gabriel Fernandez.

Montiel said it was unclear if the county was also required to pay Merritt retroactively to April 2015, when the civil service reversed his firing.

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