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Ex-Pomona Official's Bias Case Advances


POMONA — Recalled Councilman C. L. (Clay) Bryant has returned to private life, but the legacy of his controversial comments lingers on.

The U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has found "reasonable cause" to believe that Hector Godinez, former executive assistant to the city administrator, was the victim of racial or ethnic slurs.

Godinez, who lost his job during a budget cutback last year, accused Bryant of subjecting him to racial slurs. Now he "just wants his job back and some compensation for what he suffered," Godinez's lawyer said last week.

But City Atty. Arnold Glasman said Thursday that the federal commission found in a separate determination that Godinez lost his job because of budget cutbacks, not discrimination. Therefore, Glasman said, he does not believe that Godinez can get his job back.

Glasman said the city and Godinez have been invited by the commission to begin negotiations to settle the complaint on racial remarks, but he does not know what the city will be asked to do. Glasman said the remarks were entirely the responsibility of Bryant, who no longer has any connection with city government.

Robert Olmos, regional attorney for the commission, said the agency does not discuss specific cases unless they reach court, but typical remedies for violations include reinstatement and back pay.

Godinez, 40, who now works as a teacher in Santa Ana, lost his $52,000-a-year job after nine months of employment. Shortly before leaving the city, he filed the complaint with the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.

Bryant denied the charges, contending that he never talked to Godinez at City Hall because he felt that the city administrator had hired him without council authorization.

"I never even said good morning to him," Bryant said. "He wasn't in my world. He was an empty space."

Bryant said he was never contacted by anyone from the commission during its investigation of Godinez's complaint. "Nobody ever interviewed me at all," he said.

When he filed the complaint, Godinez would not discuss details of the alleged racial slurs. Interviewed last week, he again declined to elaborate, but he said Bryant made comments about him to others.

His attorney, Wilson Hart, alleged that Bryant not only made racial comments, but engineered his client's ouster by persuading the council to eliminate his job.

Dorothy J. Porter, director of the federal commission's Los Angeles district office, issued findings on Sept. 11 that did not mention Bryant by name. But the report said the evidence indicates that a councilman made racial slurs against both Godinez and a fellow councilman.

"The fact that the councilman made ethnic slurs to high-level officials is strong evidence that the purpose or effect of these comments was to create a hostile working environment," Porter wrote.

Her findings apparently referred to charges by Councilman Tomas Ursua that Bryant called him a "Chicano gang member." Bryant has acknowledged the remark, but has said that he intended no slur, contending that Ursua calls himself a Chicano and was allied with a political "gang."

In notifying the city and Godinez of the findings, Porter said that under federal law the commission must try to resolve discrimination charges through conciliation and persuasion.

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