Town of Montclair is pursing authorized motion in opposition to Councilmember Ben Lopez for damages it incurred in two sexual harassment lawsuits filed by metropolis staff.
Town filed a cross grievance in opposition to Lopez after it settled with the 2 staff who alleged Lopez made undesirable sexual advances towards them. A listening to on the town’s cross grievance in opposition to Lopez is about for later this yr.
Lopez didn’t reply to a request for remark over a number of days, however beforehand stated the lawsuits are politically motivated and purpose to take him out of workplace. His seat is on the November 2024 poll.
With its grievance in opposition to Lopez, the town seeks to get better authorized charges it has paid on account of the workers’ lawsuits. Town has paid greater than $700,000 in authorized charges related to these lawsuits, officers say.
In December 2021, two staff sued the town and Lopez alleging undesirable sexual advances, sexual harassment and discrimination in opposition to them on the premise of their sexual orientation.
Town employed a third-party investigator to look into the accusations and, after receiving the investigator’s report, the Metropolis Council formally censured Lopez in April 2022. Quickly after, the council eliminated Lopez from his committees and the town formally requested that he attend further sexual harassment-prevention coaching, other than the coaching he was required to finish upon taking workplace.
The council allotted $5,000 for that coaching and Lopez was given two choices — he might attend coaching Could 30, 2022 at Montclair Metropolis Corridor or on June 1, 2022 in Los Angeles, in line with Metropolis Supervisor Edward Starr. Lopez had not attended any further coaching as of Thursday, Jan. 25, 2024.
After an October 2022 mediation listening to, the town settled with Garcia and Fuentes for $550,000 someday in early 2023.
On Feb. 5, 2023 the town served Lopez with a cross grievance in an try to recoup its prices from the litigation and the settlement, stated Diane Robbins, a lawyer with Robbins & Holdaway, the agency representing the town.
Lopez was not part of the town’s mediation, Starr stated. Robbins stated the workers’ lawsuits in opposition to Lopez are pending.
In response to Starr, the town expects to spend as much as $900,000 on litigation prices related to its grievance in opposition to Lopez.
“So our remaining publicity could be ongoing litigation prices,” Starr stated. “And sometimes to go to trial, one can anticipate that you simply’re going to spend a pair hundred thousand on attorneys and trial.”
A listening to to determine if the workers’ lawsuits and the cross grievance will go to trial is anticipated someday late 2024.