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Settlement in Huizar sexual harassment case is at no cost to city

Settlement in Huizar sexual harassment case is at no cost to city
Francine Godoy, shown at a campaign kickoff for Councilman Jose Huizar in 2010, had accused Huizar, her boss, of retaliating against her after she refused to provide him with "sexual favors." The suit has been settled. (Irfan Khan / Los Angeles Times)

A former aide to Los Angeles City Councilman Jose Huizar has agreed to a settlement ending the sexual harassment case against her former boss -- without obtaining a payout from the city, the parties said Wednesday.

Rob Wilcox, spokesman for City Atty. Mike Feuer, said the city will pay "no money" to resolve the case filed last year by Francine Godoy, Huizar's former deputy chief of staff.

A Huizar representative would not say whether the councilman personally paid Godoy to end the case. "I really can't answer that question," said Robert Alaniz, a spokesman for Huizar's lawyer, Dennis Walsh.

Godoy's lawsuit alleged Huizar had retaliated against her after she refused to provide him with "sexual favors." Huizar called those allegations false but said he did engage in an extramarital affair with Godoy.

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Had the city paid a financial settlement in the case, its terms would have become public. Private settlements need not be disclosed and often require the parties to promise never to discuss the details. Wilcox said he does not know whether Huizar made a private payment to settle the lawsuit.

Taxpayers are already on the hook for Huizar's legal fees. The council voted in April to authorize up to $200,000 in payments to Huizar's law firm and it was not clear Wednesday whether that limit had been reached.

The settlement was announced Wednesday, a day before a scheduled hearing on a court order that allowed certain documents in Godoy's case to be designated as confidential. The Los Angeles Times had challenged the order, saying it was overly broad.

Both Huizar and Godoy's attorney, Michael Eisenberg, released a statement saying all parties had reached "a global" settlement.

"The lawsuit's been dismissed against all parties," Eisenberg said. "And the parties are moving forward and will not discuss the matter any further."

Huizar is running for his third and final four-year term on the council. He has four opponents so far, including termed-out Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina, a political veteran who has previously served on the council and in the state Assembly.

Godoy, who is now employed by the city's Bureau of Sanitation, worked for Huizar from 2006 to 2013. During that time, her annual salary grew from about $47,000 to more than $132,000, according to personnel department officials.

In her lawsuit, Godoy had accused Huizar of denying her promotions, forcing her to transfer and pressuring her to quit. She also contended that the councilman had sabotaged her attempt to run for the Los Angeles Community College District's board of trustees in 2012.

Those allegations triggered an investigation by a five-member special committee overseen by the city's Personnel Department. Godoy refused to participate in that probe; her lawyer called the process "fatally tainted."

The panel later issued a report saying that investigators lacked evidence to support Godoy's allegations that discrimination and retaliation took place. However, the committee did find that Godoy "received monetary raises, multiple times, at a faster rate" than most other staffers in Huizar's office.

david.zahniser@latimes.com
Follow @DavidZahniser for more news from L.A. City Hall.

Times staff writer Emily Alpert Reyes contributed to this report.

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