Former Raj Properties janitor Sandra Godoy filed a lawsuit against the Berkeley-based real estate owners on Wednesday, alleging that her employer sexually harassed her and wrongfully terminated her for rejecting his advances.
Godoy was employed as a janitor by Raj Properties and her supervisor, Julio Barrera, from approximately February 2007 until her employment was terminated July 1. The complaint alleged that Barrera asked Godoy to have sex with him several times, telling her that he had sexual fantasies about her and that she should leave her partner to be with him.
The complaint also alleged that Barrera made “frequent inappropriate sexual contact” with Godoy by rubbing up against her and touching her body. Barrera also allegedly stared at Godoy’s breasts and rubbed his penis through his pants as he eyed her up and down, according to the complaint.
“Whenever Plaintiff refused, resisted, objected or expressed displeasure about, Defendant Barrera’s wrongful and unlawful conduct he would become angry and/or resentful and would later be harsh towards her at work and give her more and harder work because she was not giving in to his wrongful and unlawful demands,” the complaint alleged.
Jamie Retmier, one of Godoy’s attorneys, declined to comment on the suit.
Raj Properties could not be reached for comment as of press time.
According to the complaint, Godoy, as well as “many other female employees” who were allegedly harassed by Barrera, frequently complained to Maria Franco, one of the other female supervisors, about Barrera’s behavior. Franco allegedly told them, however, to “just ignore him.”
Godoy, along with two other Raj Properties employees, filed a criminal complaint against Barrera on allegations of sexual battery with the Berkeley Police Department in May 2016. BPD investigated the claims and released a complete report about June 2. Barrera allegedly texted Godoy’s sister that same day saying that he knew about the complaint and that Godoy should “watch her back,” according to the complaint.
Five days later, the complaint alleged, Godoy arrived at work to find a termination letter on her desk. The letter also allegedly stated that her reduced rent, which she was given as an employee of Raj Properties, would end, increasing her rent from $1,000 to $1,695.
Raj Properties has faced controversy in the past. Lakireddy Bali Reddy, who is a defendant named in the lawsuit and whose family owns the company, was convicted in 2001 for trafficking minors from India to Berkeley for illegal sexual activity and immigration fraud. He was released from prison in 2008.
On July 27, Godoy filed a complaint with the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing against Raj Properties and Barrera, alleging harassment, discrimination and retaliation, according to the complaint. That same day, the department issued a notice of case closure and right to sue against the defendants, the complaint stated.
Throughout Godoy’s term of employment, Godoy was not given the rest and meal breaks required by law until about May 2016 and was not paid all of her regular or overtime wages, the complaint alleged. The complaint also alleged that Godoy’s paycheck was docked for her lunch hour every day even though she was not always able to take the hour off.
“The conduct by Defendant Barrera described in this Complaint was unwelcome to Plaintiff and was sufficiently severe that it had the effect of altering the conditions of Plaintiff’s employment and created an intimidating, hostile, abusive and offensive work environment,” the complaint alleged.
Contact Chantelle Lee and Ashley Wong at [email protected].