The state Senate this week agreed to pay $310,000 in tax dollars to settle a suit filed by a legislative employee who alleged that the Senate and former Senator Tony Mendoza fired and retaliated against her for reporting an allegation that Mendoza sexually harassed a coworker.
The accusation – later substantiated by a Senate investigation – was the first of several complaints against Mendoza that ultimately led the Democratic lawmaker to resign.
The suit was filed two years ago by Adriana Ruelas, Mendoza's former legislative director who now serves as chief of staff for Assembly Member James Ramos. None of the Senate employees named as defendants admitted any wrongdoing in the settlement.
Ruelas alleged that she was fired because she informed a supervisor and Senate leaders about what she described as harassment and inappropriate behavior by Mendoza toward a Senate fellow. Approximately five months after Ruelas was fired, the Senate announced that investigators substantiated complaints about Mendoza’s inappropriate behavior made by at least five women, but did not substantiate allegations of retaliation.