LOS ANGELES – An Irwindale police sergeant is joining his wife in suing the city, alleging in a separate lawsuit that a former police chief retaliated against him after an affair the plaintiff’s wife had with the chief ended in 2019.
Sgt. Robert Avila’s Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit was filed Tuesday and alleges retaliation, failure to promote, failure to prevent harassment, discrimination or retaliation as well as a hostile work environment.
Avila, the husband of IPD dispatcher Mariela Isabel Avila, seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.
Her separate suit was filed Jan. 3 in Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit against the city and ex-chief Ty Henshaw. She alleges sexual harassment, gender discrimination and harassment, failure to prevent discrimination, harassment or retaliation, hostile work environment and negligent hiring, supervision or retention.
Henshaw’s attorney, Bradley Gage, previously issued a statement regarding Mariela Avila’s suit.
“The chief denies the allegations in the lawsuit,” Gage said. ” He denies pursuing her relentlessly or otherwise. We look forward to putting the accuser under oath, where she will have to explain her actions. In the end, we expect complete vindication for Chief Henshaw.”
In their court papers, attorneys for the city denied Mariela Avila’s allegations and stated she is not entitled to damages.
Mariela Avila was hired at age 19 as a part-time police cadet for the IPD and the next year continued her career there as a 911 police dispatcher, a role she has maintained for 15 years, her suit states. She currently is the secretary for the Irwindale Police Association Board of Directors, her suit states.
Mariela Avila was introduced to Henshaw sometime in 2014 when he was hired as a captain and that same year he told her that she could not work the same shift as her husband even though they had done so since 2007, the suit states.
Henshaw began flirting with Mariela Avila in 2017, their relationship grew and they were intimate for the first time at a Monrovia hotel in 2018, the suit states. The pair continued to have an occasional sexual relationship for the next year, but Mariela Avila ended it in May 2019 by texting her decision to Henshaw, who begged her not to break up with him, the suit states.
According to Robert Avila’s lawsuit, his wife’s decision to end her sexual relationship with Henshaw meant the sergeant’s career was “completely upended” as the chief halted the plaintiff’s promotion opportunities.
After 13 years of receiving only “highly satisfactory” performance marks, his ratings were lowered to “competent,” Robert Avila’s suit states.
“The only explanation for Chief Henshaw choosing to lower (Robert Avila’s) performance review scores is because he was jealous that Mrs. Avila broke off her relationship with (Henshaw) and reconciled with (the sergeant),” Robert Avila’s suit states.
Robert Avila was denied a promotion to lieutenant even though had more seniority and had trained the person eventually given the job, Robert Avila’s suit states.
Henshaw later twice encouraged Robert Avila to reapply for a lieutenant’s position with the apparent goal in mind of finding the sergeant unfit and firing him at the end of his six-month probationary period, Robert Avila’s suit alleges.
In November, the current IPD chief, Robert Castro, told the Avilas they would not be able to work the same shifts anymore because of the city’s anti-nepotism policy, even though no other husband-wife IPD members were having the same rule enforced against them, Robert Avila’s suit alleges in maintaining that the city joined in the retaliation.
Robert Avila maintains the nepotism decision was part of a backlash for Mariela Avila filing a legal action against the city.
Henshaw retired from the IPD last July.