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Hawaiian Gardens Settles Harassment Lawsuit Filed Against Current Employee Fred Licon

IN ADDITION to the lawsuit Fred Licon above, was found guilty of misusing union funds in 2020.

July 22, 2023

By Brian Hews

In May 2021, Los Cerritos Community News was the only media outlet to report that Brianna Gonzalez, an employee of Hawaiian Gardens, was suing the city, alleging the city did not do enough to protect her and other women from being sexually harassed by the former president of the workers’ union, Fred Licon. 

Gonzales sued for sexual harassment – quid pro quo, hostile work environment, and failure of the city to take all reasonable steps necessary to prevent harassment.

Now sources are telling LCCN that the case was settled for an unknown amount.

An attorney for plaintiff Brianna Gonzalez filed court papers Thursday asking that her client’s case be dismissed “with prejudice,” meaning it cannot be refiled.

It is another mark on Licon’s tenure at Hawaiian Gardens; Licon is the former AFSCME union president with a very checkered past, found guilty of misusing union funds in 2020.

Gonzalez was hired in August 2017 and met then-president Licon, “Licon initially was cordial to Gonzalez, the suit stated, “however, he quickly began to focus on her, singling her out and frequently stopping at her desk when he came to City Hall.”

Later, Licon began asking Gonzalez increasingly more personal questions, including whether she had a boyfriend, what she liked to do outside of work, complementing her hair, and manner of dress, asking about her personal life, and finally asking Gonzalez to go to lunch with him.

Gonzalez rebuffed the advances and refused the lunch invitations.

Then Licon turned up the pressure with an alleged outright intimidation tactic, telling Gonzalez about his “power” at City Hall as union president over elected officials while also lying to her that he had influence at the Gardens Casino.

He said he knew people who would have influence over Gonzalez’ job, how the Council would perform favors for him, and offered to “put in a good word” for Gonzalez.

Gonzalez subsequently had a meeting with Licon to talk about union membership, with Licon requesting a one-on-one meeting in the conference room; the meeting required a waiver from the supervisor, which Licon got.

Gonzales alleges that Licon did not talk about union membership; rather he started making advances towards her again, even pulling out a $100 bill from his “expensive” wallet, keeping it on the table and making certain Gonzalez saw the money inside.

He also told Gonzales he secured a higher classification for her which included higher pay; she ended the meeting by filling out the union membership form.

After that meeting, Gonzales felt compelled to talk to a L.A. County Sheriff’s Deputy about the incident in the conference room.

The sheriffs have an office inside City Hall.

Gonzales thought that the city officials would hear her concerns, but nothing materialized and undeterred, Licon kept up his harassment.

At that time, Gonzales learned that at least two other women had filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against Licon, one named Claudia Rava, who’s case was under investigation.

Licon later learned that Gonzales was going to be a witness to the Rava case, with Gonzalez alleging that he took her outside and tried to intimidate her into a false witness.

Licon’s conduct subsided for a short while, but by the end of 2018, Licon was at it again, asking Gonzalez to lunch, bragging about himself, then inviting her to Big Bear for a weekend. Plaintiff was frozen by his words and again felt extremely intimidated.

That was the last straw for Gonzalez, who filed a complaint with human resources in October 2019.

During a subsequent investigation, the city allegedly did not interview any of the witnesses she identified. When Gonzalez inquired about adding witnesses, Patrick Matson at H.R. told her that there was “enough evidence in the witnesses the attorney interviewed who supported her claims and the investigation is closed.”

The city issued a ruling June 2020 by sustaining charges that Licon had made comments about Gonzalez’s appearance, inquired about her personal life and repeatedly pressured her for lunch dates.

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