Two siblings from Paramount who allege they lost their jobs after more than 10 years working at a Catholic church office in Lynwood for reporting what they believed was an inappropriate relationship between a school principal and a priest are suing the Archdiocese of Los Angeles.
Susana Montoya and Patricia Garcia brought the lawsuit Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court, alleging wrongful termination, intentional infliction of emotional distress and various violations of the state Labor Code.
Also named as defendants are the Rev. Ernesto Jaramillo of St. Philip Neri Church and Alejandra Gonzales, principal of St. Philip Neri Catholic School.
A representative for the archdiocese did not immediately reply to a request for comment on the suit, which seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.
The sisters were hired before 2010, with Garcia working as a secretary and Montoya primarily as a bookkeeper, according to their suit.
Gonzales began working with the sisters in 2018 and she and Jaramillo became “flirtatious” with each other, the suit alleges.
“This was disturbing to the employees, including, plaintiffs,” the suit says. “Rumors about their sexual involvement circulated in the workplace.”
Montoya was asked by other employees to address the issue because she was a longtime employee, but after she confronted Jaramillo, both she and her sister began being harassed by the priest and Gonzales, the suit alleges.
“In addition to the sexual improprieties by defendants in the workplace, plaintiff Susanna reported financial improprieties by Alejandra Gonzales,” the suit states.
In December 2018, Jaramillo and Gonzales called Montoya into the school office and falsely accused her of not doing her job, the suit alleges. Montoya then complained to bishops of the archdiocese and to human resources, according to the lawsuit.
“During this time frame, the harassment and retaliation against the two plaintiffs continued,” the suit alleges.
Montoya was taken off work in February by her doctor due to her stress, but her employer did not give her proper information about presenting a workers’ compensation claim, the suit states.
Harassment and intimidation by Jaramillo and Gonzales forced Garcia out of her job in June and Montoya was fired on Sept. 10, the suit alleges.
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