Panel starts review of sexual harassment complaint against Huizar

Los Angeles City Councilman Jose Huizar.
(Al Seib / Los Angeles Times)

The committee charged with investigating discrimination complaints against elected officials at Los Angeles City Hall met Friday to begin its review of sexual harassment allegations filed against City Councilman Jose Huizar.

The Special Committee on Investigative Oversight gathered behind closed doors to deal with the complaint lodged three months ago by Francine Godoy, 34, a former deputy chief of staff to Huizar. Godoy worked until April for Huizar, who represents El Sereno, Boyle Heights, Eagle Rock and downtown.

Godoy said in her complaint that she experienced harassment, discrimination and retaliation because of her “refusal to engage in sex” while working in the council office.


The committee is comprised of two academics -- UCLA Vice Provost Christine Littleton, a law professor whose research specialty is feminist legal theory, and Loyola Law School professor Michael Waterstone, an expert on disability and civil rights law; two retired Superior Court judges -- Robert H. London and Sara Kleban-Radin; and Alan Stamm, who represents the American Arbitration Assn.

Huizar spokesman Rick Coca did not respond to a request for comment. His boss has previously denied Godoy’s assertions. Michael Eisenberg, Godoy’s lawyer, could not be reached. Maggie Whelan, general manager for the city’s Personnel Department, would not discuss the proceedings, saying they dealt with a confidential personnel matter.

Council President Herb Wesson called for the committee to be formed in July. The panel is charged with deciding whether to bring in an investigator to look Godoy’s allegations, review the results if necessary, and send its findings to the council.

In her complaint, Godoy alleges she was asked “impermissible non-job related questions, demoted, denied a work environment free of discrimination” and ultimately forced to quit, among other things.

During her final months in Huizar’s office, Godoy had an annual salary of nearly $133,000. She moved in April to the city’s Bureau of Sanitation, where she has been earning $119,000 per year. Although she has not filed a lawsuit, Godoy’s complaint -- which names both the city of Los Angeles and Huizar -- preserves her right to sue in the future.


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Twitter: @davidzahniser