LOS ANGELES (CNS) -- Los Angeles City Councilman Kevin de León has joined his former colleague, Gil Cedillo, in suing two ex-employees of the Los Angeles County Federation of Labor in connection with the 2022 release of a secret recording where racist language was used during a discussion of redistricting plans for the city, the Los Angeles Times reported.
Like Cedillo, de León filed his lawsuit Friday in Los Angeles Superior Court and used some of the same language alleging the recording was an invasion of privacy and the result of negligence, the newspaper said.
Unlike Cedillo, de León is not suing the Federation, only the two former employees, Santos Leon and Karla Vasquez, who are married, according to the Times. The two are also named in Cedillo's lawsuit.
When the recording was made, Vasquez was as an executive assistant to then Federation president Ron Herrera, and Leon was the organization's accountant. Both have since resigned.
A Los Angeles Police Department investigation to determine who recorded the conversation is ongoing and neither Leon nor Vasquez has been publicly identified as suspects in the case.
Representatives of the Federation, Leon and Vasquez could not be reached for comment.
Though filed separately, the two lawsuits allege the recording, which became public Oct. 9, 2022 on social media, was made without their knowledge or consent and was a "textbook 'October surprise'" designed to hurt their reputations, the Times reported.
Further, both claim the most egregious remarks on the recording were made by others, not Cedillo or de León.
Cedillo's filing states others on the recording "made comments that were perceived as highly offensive by many people" but some of the statements were taken out of context or improperly translated from Spanish slang.
It further states Cedillo's only regret was in remaining silent while others made comments about Blacks, Oaxacans and others that were deemed racially insensitive and derogatory.
In the de León lawsuit, the filing said the weeks of protests -- including people camping outside his Echo Park home and occasional physical altercation --- plus calls for those on the recording to resign were misguided.
"Nuance was ignored, context was hijacked and a frenzy was manufactured," according to the Times report.
The recording was made during an October 2021 meeting at the Federation's headquarters where de León, Cedillo, former City Council President Nury Martinez and former Federation president Ron Herrera were meeting to discuss ways to preserve Latino electoral clout amid efforts to revise City Council district boundaries.
Martinez and Herrera stepped down from their posts shortly after the recording became publicly available. Cedillo had lost his bid for reelection four months before the recording was released, but remained in office until his term ended in December.
Only de León remains in office and has announced plans to seek reelection.
Cedillo's lawsuit states that his "entire lifetime of service was jettisoned because he failed to object to comments made by his colleagues" and that he has lost employment opportunities, the Times reported.
The newspaper said he is seeking punitive damages, general damages and compensatory damages.
In de León's complaint, it said release of the recording has made him the "target of verbal assault, ethnic slurs, death threats, being spat on, and permanent damage to his reputation and political future."
He is seeking unspecified damages.
Copyright 2023, City News Service, Inc.