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Former La Puente manager strikes settlement

A woman who formerly served as the city manager in La Puente, California struck a settlement with the mayor and city in a sexual harassment case. The lawsuit stemmed from the woman's employment with the city, which she left after only a year because she could no longer endure inappropriate actions and comments at the hands of the mayor.

The woman served in the position from December 2009 to the same time in 2010. During that time, she said that the mayor unloaded a barrage of sexual innuendos and requests for sexual favors. These are classic factors in a hostile work environment that no employee should have to deal with.

She also launched accusations of gender discrimination, retaliation and causing emotional distress. The retaliatory behavior, according to the woman, was on behalf of a councilman, who tried to get her to write off a parking ticket he received. From the sounds of it, the woman simply had no other choice but to remove herself from a job that she otherwise might have really enjoyed.

Instead of dragging out the case, the woman decided to settle. Per the terms of the settlement, the woman will receive $300,000 in damages. That sum also included severance pay in the amount of $160,000 as was stated in her contract.

The woman's complaints were not apparently the first. When her complaints emerged, the city's insurance agency -- the California Joint Power Insurance Authority-- ordered the city be put on an improvement plan. The insurance provider noticed an uptick in liability and workers' compensation claims. The JPIA warned that if the city did not take measures to curb these, they might no longer provide insurance for it.

In August of last year, the JPIA laid out a number of perimeters the city needed to meet. One of the measures was reporting all harassment, discrimination and retaliation claims made to the JPIA.

The councilman accused of retaliation said the woman was incompetent, which is why her tenure was riddled with internal investigations and negative reviews by fellow staff members.

Source: Whittier Daily News, "La Puente settles case with former city manager for $300,000," Juliette Funes, April 10, 2012

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