At 19-years-old, Alma Chavez began working towards her dream job. She started as a cadet for the Irwindale Police Department with the goal of one day becoming a sworn peace officer. According to Chavez’s attorney, Lt. Mario Camacho knew this and used that information to coerce her into accepting his unwanted sexual contact.
Now the City of Irwindale is again the defendant in an employment-related lawsuit. Chavez is suing for sexual harassment. Camacho and Irwindale are also defendants in a lawsuit filed last summer regarding overtime payments and retaliation.
Over the course of her four years with the police department, Chavez received several gifts from Camacho, including a Louis Vuitton purse and bracelet from Tiffany’s. Camacho also held Chavez’s hand, kissed her and inappropriately touched her while on duty, according to Chavez’s sexual harassment lawsuit.
Chavez asserts that she tried to stop Camacho’s unwelcome and harassing behavior but gave in when he made her worklife miserable. As Chavez became more amenable to Camacho’s inappropriate behavior, he became easier to work with.
Camacho promised her a full-time job with the city once she began accepting his come-ons, according to court documents. He also allowed Chavez to rent a condo he owned at below-market value.
Things went sour when Camacho learned that Chavez was living in the condo with her boyfriend. He asked her to move out and, according to Chavez, required her resignation shortly after. Chavez claims that she had no other choice but to quit.
Source: Los Angeles Times, “Ex-Irwindale police cadet charges sexual harassment by lieutenant,” January 3, 2012