A former aide to NELA’s Councilmember José Huizar is suing the city of Los Angeles, alleging that she faced retaliation for speaking up about his “potential legal and ethical violations,” the Los Angeles Times has reported.
The lawsuit, which names Mr. Huizar as a defendant, comes as a special investigatory panel is looking into a separate allegation of discrimination against Mr. Huizar that was made public in September.
The lawsuit was filed by Mayra Alvarez, who started as an intern in Mr. Huizar’s office and was on his staff from 2014 until July, 2018.
Ms. Alvarez alleges that Mr. Huizar required staffers to work during city hours on preparations for the City Council campaign of his wife, Richelle Huizar. Ms. Alvarez also alleges that she was demoted and given lesser responsibilities for saying that she considered such campaign work to be a violation of ethics rules. (Ms. Huizar announced in September that she would run for City Council to replace her husband, who will be termed out in 2020.)
Ms. Alvarez further alleges that she was punished for taking pregnancy and disability leave and for complaining that Mr. Huizar was having an affair with an aide who received favorable assignments and other special treatment in the workplace.
Ms. Alvarez also alleges that Mr. Huizar required her to alter records of meetings with lobbyists and developers that he did not want divulged under a California Public Records Act filed by the L.A Times. She says she was further required to delete all of the emails about altering the records.
Mr. Huizar issued a statement calling the lawsuit “absolute nonsense,” “completely false,” “outlandish” and a “hit piece by political operatives” who want to undermine him and his wife’s campaign.
The lawsuit will make its way forward at the same time that a special panel investigates the separate discrimination allegation against Mr. Huizar by a former employee who has not been identified publicly.
It’s unclear how long that investigation will take or what the repercussions will be. Initially, in a story in the L.A. Times on Sept. 20, the City Personnel Department confirmed that the complaint against Mr. Huizar involved harassment, discrimination and retaliation. Twelve days later, on Oct. 2, the City Personnel Office said that the letter referring the complaint for investigation mentioned discrimination only.
Also unclear is how Ms. Huizar’s campaign will be affected by the allegations swirling around her husband.