SACRAMENTO -- A California lawmaker suspended amid a sexual misconduct allegation sued the Legislature for reinstatement, arguing he's being treated differently than his white colleague.
After pressure from colleagues, Democratic Sen. Tony Mendoza of Artesia went on voluntary leave after he was accused of acting inappropriately toward three young women who worked for him and firing another staffer who reported one of the instances. He was suspended last month because an investigation into misconduct hadn't concluded before he was expected to return from leave.
The lawsuit notes that Mendoza, who is Latino, has been suspended but Democratic Sen. Bob Hertzberg of Los Angeles, who is white, has not been asked to step aside despite also facing sexual misconduct allegations.
A former Assembly speaker, Hertzberg is under investigation for allegations that he made at least three female colleagues uncomfortable with hugs. Documents released by the Legislature on Feb. 2 also show he was formally investigated in 2015 when a staff member complained he began dancing with her in his office, making her uncomfortable.
Mendoza has denied retaliation or behaving inappropriately and said in the lawsuit that no one has accused him of "any inappropriate bodily contact, propositions or threats."