FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
November 8, 2023
Radim Dragomaca, [email protected]
Los Angeles City Council Awards $1.8 million Settlement in Sexual Harassment Lawsuit, Vindicating Former Garcetti Aides Who Chose to Tell the Truth
Sexual Harassment Settlement Exposes Culture of Abuse and Evasion under Former Mayor Eric Garcetti, Whistleblower Aid Says
Washington, D.C., November 8, 2023 – A $1.8 million legal settlement approved today by the Los Angeles City Council is a clear victory for the former member of Mayor Eric Garcetti’s protective detail who alleged he was subject to repeated sexual harassment and inappropriate touching by a top aide. And it is a firm vindication of the whistleblowers inside the Mayor’s office who, despite immense pressure to stay silent, exposed a culture of harassment and intimidation running all the way to the top.
In representing one of those whistleblowers, former mayoral communications director Naomi Seligman, Whistleblower Aid was instrumental in demonstrating that LAPD officer Matthew Garza was far from the only person in and around Garcetti’s administration subjected to sexual harassment and abuse. The organization also showed in legal disclosures and other statements that Garcetti and his inner circle had engaged in aggressive, dishonest tactics to evade accountability and to undermine victims and witnesses.
The evidence marshaled by Whistleblower Aid from deposition testimony, text messages, photographs, and other sources later formed the basis of a U.S. Senate Investigation report which concluded that Mayor Garcetti more than likely knew about the abuse or should have known. A number of witnesses reported that Garcetti had seen the abuse himself and, despite acknowledging it as a liability, did nothing to rein in his aide Rick Jacobs. Controversy over the scandal dogged Garcetti for more than 600 days, stalling his confirmation as U.S. ambassador to India, thereby causing senators from both parties to withdraw their support before he was narrowly confirmed this past March.
“Today’s settlement underscores the validity and seriousness of the allegations that Garcetti and his team fought so hard to deny and suppress,” Whistleblower Aid CEO Libby Liu said.
“It would not have been possible without the bravery and determination of a few individuals from inside Garcetti’s mayoral administration who refused to roll over for the sake of his future career ambitions and told the truth under oath. The size of the settlement speaks volumes about the power of the evidence that these whistleblowers presented and the importance of holding enablers accountable.”
Seligman, who is now Chief Strategy Officer at Whistleblower Aid, said the case underlined the importance of protecting all victims of harassment and abuse in the workplace and that these incidents were particularly egregious because Garcetti’s administration behaved in direct contradiction to its public commitment to gender equity and a “zero tolerance” to sexual misconduct.
“People who subject subordinates to sexual pressure and humiliation can only continue the abuse if someone at the top enables it. The taxpayers of Los Angeles should not have to pick up the tab for Eric Garcetti’s derelict leadership,” Seligman said today.
“Garcetti failed in his fundamental duty as mayor to keep city employees safe. Today’s settlement acknowledges that at last.”
Whistleblower Aid is a non-profit legal organization in Washington, D.C. supporting individuals who lawfully report government and corporate law breaking. It provides assistance to individuals in the United States and abroad seeking to disclose illegal conduct, including misconduct relating to government officials, securities fraud, sexual violence, and violations of tax, labor or environmental laws. In recent years Whistleblower Aid lawyers have represented Facebook whistleblower Frances Haugen and the intelligence community whistleblower whose disclosures led to the first impeachment of President Trump.