February 24, 2024

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.