Former Senator Tony Mendoza may have resigned his position in 2018 after a flurry of accusations involving sexual harassment, but his unfortunate legacy is still hanging over California. Another six-figure settlement has been made related to the senator — but it’s the taxpayers who have to pick up the bill, not the former senator.
This case is related to allegations that the senator retaliated against his legislative director for reporting the sexual harassment of a co-worker. According to the complaint, the legislative director informed both Senate officials and her direct supervisor about Mendoza’s pattern of harassment, inappropriate actions and discrimination toward another female staffer in the office. The plaintiff was subsequently fired, an act that she claims was designed to punish her for speaking out. She was one of three employees handed termination letters during a meeting with human resources about the issues.
Just five months later, a Senate investigation substantiated allegations of sexual harassment against Mendoza involving at least six women. Mendoza stepped down from his position even though he continued to maintain his innocence. He claimed he was being treated unfairly by his colleagues.
To be certain, Mendoza isn’t the only legislative official accused of misconduct. The #MeToo movement brought a number of ugly allegations into the public’s consciousness, sparking a change in the way that the legislature handles internal investigations of sexual harassment and its treatment of whistleblowers.
This case is an important reminder that you don’t have to be a victim of sexual harassment yourself to suffer from it. Just standing up for what’s right and trying to stop it can make you a target for harassment and retaliation. If that happens, find out what you can do to secure your future.