Suit against state legislator seeks prior employment records

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Wave Wire Services

LOS ANGELES — Lawyers for a female former employee of state Sen. Bob Archuleta, D-Norwalk — who is suing the 76-year-old state legislator for sexual harassment — want a judge to allow them to examine any similar complaints filed against the politician when he was a Montebello police officer.

The woman is identified only as Jane Doe in the Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit, which was filed in March 2021 and also names as defendants the state of California and the state Senate. She alleges whistleblower retaliation, intentional infliction of emotional distress and various state Labor Code violations, and is seeking unspecified damages.

In new court papers filed April 11 with Judge Rupert A. Byrdsong, the plaintiff’s attorneys are asking the city of Montebello to release information on any complaints made against Archuleta when he was a member of the police department.

“Here, Sen. Archuleta has publicly decreed, ‘I would never knowingly mistreat or disrespect a female employee,’” Doe’s attorneys state in their court papers. “The information sought would test the credence of such. Certainly, the allegations in Doe’s complaint do just that.

Archuleta, who served on the Pico Rivera City Council before being elected to the state Senate in 2018, previously released a statement calling Doe’s allegations “completely and categorically false.”

“My entire career, I have supported the right of every Californian to feel safe, valued and protected in the workplace,” his statement said. “While I would never knowingly mistreat or disrespect a female employee, I believe in their absolute right to come forward and be heard if and when they believe that standard has been violated.”

Doe’s lawyers are specifically seeking release from the Montebello Police Department records of any sexual harassment, gender-based impropriety or physical contact complaints against Archuleta.

“The requested documents will … reveal the number of complaints filed against Sen. Archuleta, if any, and why any such complaints were made,” Doe’s attorneys state in their court papers.

The documents sought can be used to substantiate claims that others have been subjected to similar treatment, Doe’s lawyers argue in their court papers.

According to the lawsuit, Archuleta sought out Doe in February 2019 “under the guise of prospective employment” in the senator’s office.

“With high hopes of helping the 32nd Senate District … she jumped at the opportunity to meet with the senator,” the suit states.

During her first interactions with Archuleta, she tried to share the positive experience she enjoyed while working for another politician, but the senator replied, “I don’t care about that. I am Sen. Archuleta and we’re going to do it my way,” the suit alleges.

Archuleta told Doe to keep their meeting confidential and asked her for her resume before subsequently hiring her, according to the plaintiff.

The lawsuit states that Doe openly complained of unwanted sexual advances and touching by Archuleta, including him grabbing her arm in public, as well as the way she was treated in the office because she was a woman.

Archuleta once described to Doe an affair he had with a married flight attendant and how on another occasion he “hit on” a local elected official who turned out to be a part of the LGBT community, according to Doe’s new court papers.

“After Doe complained of Archuleta’s mistreatment of her and rebuffed his unwanted advances, she experienced retaliation,” according to the suit, which says her role in the office was vastly minimized and she was warned about “insubordination.”

A hearing on the request for the Montebello Police Department records is scheduled for May 5.

 

 

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