Los Angeles City Councilman, Jose Huizar has dodged another bullet (partially at tax-payer’s expense), settling a sexual harassment lawsuit filed by his former chief of staff, Francine Godoy.
The suit alleged that Huizar had conditioned Godoy’s employment and other benefits on her performance of sexual favors, and rewarded her handsomely for her compliance. When she refused, however, she claims that she was met with retaliatory efforts from the councilman, ultimately leading to her having to find a new job.
Apparently reaching a settlement, she moved to dismiss her case last week, without disclosing the particulars of whatever agreement had been reached.
“The parties have reached a global settlement,” said her attorney. “The parties are moving forward.”
The terms of the settlement were not divulged, but City Attorney’s Office spokesman Rob Wilcox said no money was paid out by the city.
While both sides confirmed that no money was paid out by the city, no one was willing to comment on whether the councilman himself had to fork over any cash for the much needed settlement.
I say ‘much needed’ because Huizar is up for re-election for a third term in his Eastside district this March, and doesn’t need the added baggage of a sexual harassment lawsuit hindering his fund raising and campaign efforts.
While Godoy had sued the city and councilman last fall, claiming her employment benefits were “explicitly conditioned” on sexual favors to Huizar, the councilman claimed that this was simply a case of an extra marital affair gone wrong. In an interview this spring, he alleged that Godoy was “trying to paint a picture of someone I am not.”
According to a report by the Los Angeles Daily News, an independent investigation ordered by City Hall and released earlier this year found Godoy was “promoted, and received monetary raises, multiple times, at a faster rate than most other staff in CD-14.” She earned about $130,000 working for Huizar.
Investigators, who didn’t interview Godoy, found no evidence of her claims of harassment and discrimination, according to the report’s conclusion.
Wednesday’s announcement of a settlement means both Godoy and Huizar will avoid a trial. His court date was scheduled for early March, one day before the primary election.
Attorneys from City Attorney Mike Feuer’s office represented the city in the case, while the City Council approved up to $200,000 in taxpayer funds to hire the law firm of Walsh & Associates to represent Huizar.
Robert Alaniz, spokesman for Walsh & Associates, said the firm’s final bill had not yet been presented to the city.
It’s not clear if taxpayers will cover the entirety of that bill and a City Attorney’s Office spokesman didn’t immediately return a phone call.
The City Council earlier this year approved a $185,000 settlement after Huizar was involved in a October 2012 car accident in Boyle Heights.
David Ceja, whose Saturn was rear-ended by Huizar’s city-issued Toyota Highland, filed a civil complaint against the city, prompting the settlement.
Ask yourself: Am I being sexually harassed at work? If you know that you are, or even if you’re unsure, contact the offices of Stephen Danz & Associates at (877) 789-9707 or use the Contact Form on our website to schedule a FREE CONSULTATION with Stephen and one of his associates. They can answer your questions about harassment and any other employment law issue, guiding you through the legal world with over three decades of experience representing employees in California and around the world.