Delegates for the Orange County Labor Federation voted unanimously Thursday night to fire Executive Director Julio Perez, after a months-long investigation found “credible testimony from multiple women” of sexual harassment and retaliation by Perez.
According to a Labor Federation news release, delegates voted to terminate Perez’s employment effective immediately.
An independent attorney hired by the Labor Federation found allegations ranging from “inappropriate comments to inappropriate sexual activity in the workplace and retaliation,” according to the news release.
An investigation into Perez was initiated in mid-October 2017 following allegations posted on Facebook, as part of the #metoo social media campaign to raise awareness of sexual harassment and assault, by several women alleging inappropriate behavior by Perez and the former executive director of the Democratic Party of Orange County, Erik Taylor.
The Facebook posts were followed by a news release and statements by the Orange County Young Democrats which described the allegations but did not name the two men.
“Specifically, women are speaking out about men in power at the Democratic Party of Orange County and/or the Orange County Labor Federation who have tried to undress young women in the workplace, sent young women pornographic images and memes, and joked about porn with young interns,” the news release stated.
Jennifer Beuthin, general manager for the Orange County Employees Association, acted as a liaison for the investigation on behalf of the Labor Federation.
“There is no place for sexual harassment in the labor movement, and tonight’s vote is consistent with the values union members fight for every day,” said Beuthin in the news release.
Beuthin did not immediately return a call for comment.
Taylor, who in October was the campaign manager for congressional candidate Phil Janowicz, resigned his position on Oct. 19.
The OC Weekly, which was first to report news of Perez’s firing on Friday morning, reported that attorney Monica Guizar was retained by the Labor Federation to conduct the investigation.
Two women alleged that Perez showed them pornography at OCLF, while the executive director and two others who witnessed the incident denied it occurred, according to Guizar, who added that she found the female accusers to be credible.
As part of the investigation, Perez turned in his work laptop and a tablet but wiped them clean by resetting them to factory settings, according to Guizar, who told the board she considered that interfering with her probe.
Meanwhile, a third woman alleged inappropriate sexual misconduct and retaliation by Perez, who had shared a consensual relationship with her at one time, according to the investigation. That apparently changed when she alleged that Perez told her she’d lose special privileges at OCLF for her work if a sexual relationship didn’t continue. She alleged that on one occasion, she went to the OCLF for a work meeting when he closed the door and initiated an unspecified sex act. Retaliation came after Perez blocked her from future employment opportunities, according to Guizar, who found her to be credible. Perez is said to have refused to participate when asked to address the allegations.
During the investigation, the Executive Board also became aware that Perez was previously accused of sexual misconduct by two women at AFL-CIO events. The allegations were that he groped them and made inappropriate comments on separate occasions. The AFL-CIO investigated the allegations and asked him to step down from his position on the AFL-CIO’s youth worker advisory council. At that time, they also warned him future allegations of such a nature could result in his termination.
Also during the investigation, Perez made Facebook posts that appeared to be directed at an accuser or accusers.
Perez did not immediately return a request from Voice of OC for comment.
Contact Thy Vo at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow her on Twitter @thyanhvo.
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