A former Los Angeles Department of Water and Power employee has tentatively settled his lawsuit against the city in which he alleged he was forced to resign in 2019 after his refusal of his co-workers’ demand that he take them to a strip club was met with harassment and retaliation, including putting a dead rat in his work truck.
Attorneys for plaintiff Thomas Gonzales filed a notice of conditional settlement Thursday with Los Angeles Superior Court Judge Kevin Brazile. The court papers, which state that a request for dismissal will be filed by March 31, do not state the terms of the tentative accord or if it is subject to approval by the City Council.
In their court papers, attorneys for the city stated that Gonzales was vague concerning the identities of co-workers who allegedly harassed him.
Gonzales, who was 43 years old when his suit was brought in August 2019, worked for the DWP for three years as an electric distribution mechanic. Upon arrival to his work site in Palms, Gonzales found out that DWP employees had a tradition in which new employees or those just promoted were expected to take their co-workers to an expensive lunch or dinner at a strip club and pay the bill for the entire group, the suit stated.
Gonzales, who is married, refused to take part in the tradition and then became the target of colleagues who called him derogatory homophobic names, the suit stated.
Beginning in June 2018, he complained often to management about the alleged actions of the other employees, but nothing was done, the suit stated. Instead, the Palms Yard superintendent began investigating Gonzales, seeking information from other employees to defame and harm the plaintiff, the suit stated.
Gonzales was reassigned from high-voltage to low-voltage duty, a less desirable position, according to the suit, which further states that Gonzales found a dead rat in his work truck in July 2018.
“(Gonzales) took this action to mean, symbolically, that people … who `rat’ or report incidents of workplace harassment will suffer death,” the suit stated.
The plaintiff was forced to quit in May 2019 when he could no longer tolerate the alleged abuse, the suit stated.