A window washer cleans the windows at the Billie Jean King Main Library. Photo by Thomas Cordova.

Long Beach will pay $295,000 to settle a lawsuit alleging its top library official harassed and discriminated against a gay employee before firing him.

The City Council voted to authorize the payment Tuesday night, ending the lawsuit filed in January against Long Beach and library director Glenda Williams.

In the lawsuit, Williams’s former executive assistant, Michael Lektorich, accuses her of making sexist and inappropriate comments toward him before he was dismissed from his job.

The settlement isn’t an admission of wrongdoing, but the city agreed to the deal because officials didn’t want to “roll the dice with folks in a jury,” City Attorney Charles Parkin said.

“We certainly don’t believe that Glenda discriminated against Mr. Lektorich,” he said.

Lektorich’s suit lays out a series of demeaning comments he alleges Williams made to him including:

  • “Men are slower than women”
  • “Men take more time to process and make decisions”
  • “Men are not prepared”
  • “[The women] can speak differently when men are not around”
  • “We’ll have to talk differently now that men will be in the meeting”

In 2016, Williams began telling other employees that she wanted to fire Lektorich, who’d worked for the library since 2008, but she “was concerned about his termination because he was ‘gay,'” the lawsuit says.

Lektorich alleges other employees told him Williams treated gay employees differently and she “has a problem with gay men.”

He complained to Human Resources about Williams in 2017 but any followup was slow or nonexistent, the lawsuit says.

When Lektorich complained again in June 2018, he was fired two weeks later, according to court papers.

He was told the “library is going in a different direction,” the lawsuit says. Shortly thereafter, the city posted a job ad hiring for his now-empty position, the suit says.

This week’s settlement “will finally allow the parties to put this dispute to rest,” Lektorich’s attorneys at the Petronelli Law Group said in a statement.

Jeremiah Dobruck is managing editor of the Long Beach Post. Reach him at [email protected] or @jeremiahdobruck on Twitter.