LOS ANGELES – An Irwindale police sergeant joins his wife in a lawsuit against the city, alleging in a separate lawsuit that a former police chief retaliated against him after the plaintiff’s wife’s affair with the chief ended in 2019.
Sergeant Robert Avila’s lawsuit in Los Angeles Superior Court was filed on Tuesday and alleges retaliation, denial of promotion, failure to prevent harassment, discrimination or retaliation, and a hostile work environment.
Avila, husband of IPD controller Mariela Isabel Avila, is seeking unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.
Her separate lawsuit was filed Jan. 3 in Los Angeles Superior Court against the city and ex-chief Ty Henshaw. She claims sexual harassment, gender discrimination and harassment, failure to prevent discrimination, harassment or retaliation, a hostile work environment, and negligent recruitment, supervision or retention.
Henshaw’s lawyer Bradley Gage has previously issued a statement on Mariela Avila’s lawsuit.
“Chief denies the allegations in the lawsuit,” Gage said. He denies that he pursues her relentlessly or otherwise. We look forward to the accuser being sworn in, where she will have to explain her actions. In the end, we expect Chief Henshaw’s full acquittal.”
In their court papers, city attorneys denied Mariela Avila’s allegations and said she was not entitled to damages.
Mariela Avila was recruited at 19 as a part-time police cadet at the IPD and continued her career there the following year as a 911 police dispatcher, a role she held for 15 years, her lawsuit says. She currently serves as secretary to the Board of Directors of the Irwindale Police Association, according to her lawsuit.
Mariela Avila met Henshaw sometime in 2014 when he was hired as captain, and that same year he told her that she couldn’t work the same shift as her husband, even though they had been doing so since 2007, according to in a lawsuit.
Henshaw began flirting with Mariela Avila in 2017, their relationship grew and they first got intimate in a Monrovia hotel in 2018, the lawsuit says. The couple continued to have intermittent sexual relations over the next year, but Mariela Avila ended it in May 2019 by sending a message about her decision to Henshaw, who begged her not to break up with him, the lawsuit says.
According to Robert Ávila’s lawsuit, his wife’s decision to end her sexual relationship with Henshaw meant that the sergeant’s career was “completely turned around” as the superior denied the plaintiff the opportunity for promotion.
After 13 years of receiving only “highly satisfactory” performance grades, his grades were downgraded to “competent,” according to Robert Avila’s lawsuit.
“The only explanation that Chief Henshaw decided to lower (Robert Avila’s) grades on the performance appraisals is that he was jealous that Mrs. Avila broke off relations with (Henshaw) and made peace with (Sergeant),” Robert’s lawsuit says. Avila.
Robert Avila was denied a promotion to lieutenant even though he had more seniority and trained the man who eventually got the job, according to Robert Avila’s lawsuit.
Later, Henshaw twice urged Robert Avila to reapply for the position of lieutenant, with the apparent aim of finding the sergeant unfit and firing him after a six-month probationary period, according to Robert Avila’s lawsuit.
In November, current IPD head Robert Castro told Avilas that they would no longer be able to work the same shifts due to the city’s anti-nepotism policy, although no married IPD members had enforced the same rule against them, in Robert Avila’s lawsuit alleges that the city has joined in the retaliation.
Robert Avila claims that the nepotism decision was part of Mariela Avila’s reaction to filing a lawsuit against the city.
Henshaw resigned from IPD last July.