Faced with a consultant's report that City Atty. Victor Kaleta discriminated against female staffers, the Pasadena City Council has hired a private lawyer to determine what action to take.
The council conferred with Pasadena lawyer Carolyn Carlburg in a confidential session Monday, but no action is expected until next week at the earliest.
City officials declined to provide details of the meeting. And most declined to comment on possible responses to the report on Kaleta.
"The whole purpose of this inquiry is to give a fair and impartial review of the situation," Councilman Rick Cole said.
But Councilman Isaac Richard, a strong critic of Kaleta, said in an interview that the city attorney should be placed on administrative leave pending a council decision.
"We're getting legal advice from a city attorney who's being investigated for civil rights violations. This is a logistical problem," Richard said.
Kaleta declined to comment on the allegations against him or to say whether he had retained a lawyer. "I don't want to try this in the newspaper," he said.
In an April 14 confidential report obtained by The Times, work-conflict consultant Rebecca Rojas said female lawyers in the civil branch of the city attorney's office have suffered discrimination in nearly every area of employment--promotions, salaries, bonuses and fringe benefits.
Much of the damage, according to Rojas, stemmed from a 1992 reorganization of the nine-lawyer civil division.
Before the reorganization, Assistant City Atty. Ann Higgenbotham was second in command of the office. But in 1992, Kaleta removed Higgenbotham from supervisory duty and gave five male lawyers the same title and equal standing, Rojas said.
The reorganization left only three deputy city attorneys--all women--in the civil division. Rojas found that Kaleta did not advise deputy city attorneys Carolyn Williams, Ann Rider and Julia Weston of the opportunity for promotion.
"Female attorneys had been discriminated against because they had not been informed of the possibility of promotion and excluded from consideration for promotion," Rojas wrote.
Rider declined to comment, and Higgenbotham, Williams and Weston could not be reached.
Rojas also found disparities between men and women in salary, merit pay and fringe benefits. Male attorneys with less tenure in the office have a higher average salary than female attorneys with more tenure, her report said. The report did not provide specific salary figures.
The report also found that male attorneys who received a "superior" rating on recent annual performances were awarded more merit pay than female lawyers with the same rating.
Additionally, car allowances have been given to male attorneys but never to female attorneys in the civil division, Rojas said.
The investigation of Kaleta was triggered by a December memo written by an unidentified staff member, who complained of disparate treatment of women.