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Eastside Councilman Accused in Workplace Sexual Harassment Complaint

A former aide for Los Angeles Councilmember José Huizar, who represents the 14th Council District, has filed a workplace discrimination and sexual harassment complaint against him.

Francine Godoy, Huizar’s former deputy chief of staff, filed a complaint a couple of months ago and also filed a “right-to-sue” notice, according to the Department of Fair Employment and Housing.

“The Councilmember is surprised by the claim. He 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. Because of the potential for litigation, we cannot at this time comment on this issue any further,” Huizar’s spokesman Rick Coca told EGP in an emailed statement. “In the meantime, however, the Councilmember remains focused on delivering top-notch City services to the constituents of the 14th Council District,”

The redacted complaint alleges discrimination, harassment and retaliation based on her gender and focuses on a date on or before April 21, as being retaliated against after rejecting sexual advances.

The complainant said Godoy was asked “impermissible non-job-related questions,” “denied a work environment free of discrimination and/or retaliation” and denied employment. The complaint also said she was forced to transfer, denied promotion and “denied ability to run for office.”

“I was subjected to sexual harassment [quid pro quo] and retaliated against when I refused advances as well as subjected to the above,” the complainant wrote in the claim.

Last week, Council President Herb Wesson called for the convening of a Special Committee on Investigative Oversight, an independent panel that reviews misconduct complaints against elected city officials, according to Wesson’s spokesperson Ed Johnson. Although he declined to identify which elected official is the target of the complaint that prompted the panel, and who filed the complaint.

The five-person panel will decide if an investigation is warranted, or if there could be an informal resolution, according to Raelynn Napper, the city’s Equal Employment Opportunity coordinator and division manager.

If an investigation is needed, the panel will direct an outside investigator to look into the claims, she said. The panel would then review the results of the investigation and decide if it will take the side of the elected official or ask him to find his or her own legal representation in the event of a lawsuit.

Godoy was identified as the person who filed the complaint against Huizar in June, by a Los Angeles Times report.

When Godoy plans to file a lawsuit is unclear. EGP could not reach Godoy for comment.

Huizar was first elected to the city council in 2005. He is married and has four small children.


Information from City News Service was used in this report.