The City of Chula Vista has agreed to pay a former employee $400,000 to settle a sexual harassment claim against a current employee.
According to court documents, Mariana Garcia filed to dismiss the case due to a settlement having been reached on February 16. Garcia filed her lawsuit on March 2 of last year.
According to the complaint, Garcia began as an intern in the city's Economic Development Department in September 2013. She was hired on full-time in January of the following year.
Not long after starting at the city, Garcia met Alejandro Ruiz Velasco, a conservation specialist. In November 2013, Velasco began asking Garcia out to lunch. Garcia repeatedly refused the invitations. Velasco allegedly began telling Garcia that he wanted to wake up next to her and that she was beautiful.
In January 2015 the emails began. Velasco reportedly would ask her about her personal life. He wanted to know the type of men she liked. He later referenced how he craved a woman's genitalia.
The following year, Garcia told Velasco that she was not interested and would never be interested in dating him. One month later Velasco's supervisor Lynn France wanted to meet with Garcia. At the meeting she told Garcia that other employees had accused her of sexually harassing them.
Garcia then began compiling emails and other evidence of Velasco's harassment. She went to the city's human resources department to file a complaint and show them the emails.
The city responded by transferring her to another department temporarily. Velasco was not disciplined. Garcia has since quit her job.
Garcia's attorney, Dan Gilleon, confirmed the settlement as well as the amount.
Chula Vista's city attorney's office provided the following statement on the settlement:
“As with all cases, the city takes the allegations seriously. The city has a discrimination and sexual harassment policy in place, which it strictly enforces. In addition, city employees are expected to comply with all state and federal laws regarding discrimination and harassment.”
The city also confirmed that Velasco is still employed as a conservation specialist for the city.