Councilman Jose Huizar denies allegations in employee complaint
Los Angeles City Councilman Jose Huizar said through a spokesman Monday that allegations contained in a workplace discrimination complaint filed against him by a former female staffer are untrue.
Huizar spokesman Rick Coca said in an email that the councilman “strongly and emphatically denies the assertions made in the claim sent to the city and intends to fully cooperate with the city in any investigation of this matter.” Coca also said Huizar was “surprised” to learn that the 2-month old complaint had been filed.
The statement was issued hours after officials with the state Department of Fair Employment and Housing confirmed to The Times that Francine Godoy, 33, lodged a workplace complaint against Huizar and the city of Los Angeles. After The Times requested any document filed against Huizar by Godoy, state officials turned over a redacted copy of the June 7 complaint.
The document, which has the names blacked out, says the complainant faced discrimination, harassment and retaliation because of her gender and because of her “refusal to engage in sex.” The complaint said the discrimination occurred on or before April 21. On that day, Godoy moved to a job with the city’s Bureau of Sanitation, according to city personnel officials.
“I was subjected to sexual harassment [quid pro quo and hostile work environment] and retaliated against when I refused advances,” the complaint states.
By filing a complaint, Godoy preserved her right to sue in the future, state officials said.
Coca said that because of the potential for litigation, Huizar cannot comment further. “In the meantime, however, the council member remains focused on delivering top-notch city services to the constituents of the 14th Council District,” which takes in such neighborhoods as downtown, Boyle Heights and Eagle Rock, Coca said.
Godoy was hired by Huizar in 2006, earning about $47,000 per year. By January 2013, she was making nearly $133,000 annually as a high-level Huizar aide, up from roughly $112,000 just a year earlier, according to the city’s Personnel Department. She is now a principal project coordinator in the city’s sanitation agency, making nearly $119,000 a year.
Last week, Council President Herb Wesson instructed personnel officials to convene the Special Committee on Investigative Oversight, a panel charged exclusively with reviewing misconduct allegations against any of the city’s 18 elected officials. Wesson said it was in response to a complaint but would not say who was the target.
The document provided to The Times lists an array of allegations, saying the complainant was not provided “a workplace free of discrimination and/or retaliation” and faced “impermissible non-job-related questions.” The complainant said she “refused advances” and that her ability to run for office was “sabotaged.”
Godoy’s lawyer, Michael Eisenberg, would not say whether Godoy had been seeking a particular political office. He declined to discuss any aspect of the complaint, saying he and Godoy have no intention of “trying this in the media.”
“We’re not there where we can talk about it openly,” he added.
The stories shaping California
Get up to speed with our Essential California newsletter, sent six days a week.
You may occasionally receive promotional content from the Los Angeles Times.