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Latest HEIT News
Mar 21, 2023
Irwindale officials say the lawsuit by Sgt. Robert Avila is meritless, as is an earlier suit by his wife Share this: By Jason Henry | Southern California News Group PUBLISHED: | UPDATED: March 21, 2023 at 4:24 a.m. An Irwindale police sergeant, whose wife previously sued the city over sexual harassment, is now alleging in a separate lawsuit that the city’s former police chief refused to promote him after an affair between the sergeant’s wife and the chief ended in 2019. The lawsuit, filed March 14 by attorneys for Sgt. Robert Avila, an officer with the department for 24 years, alleges Avila faced retaliation, discrimination and a hostile work environment in the wake of the breakup. Avila’s wife, dispatcher Mariela Avila, sued Irwindale in January , alleging she and former Chief Ty Henshaw had an affair — while she and her husband were separated — for nearly a year until she asked him to back off after she reconciled with her husband. Her separate lawsuit alleges Henshaw continued to contact her, made frequent sexual remarks, pressured her to meet up with him and brushed up against her inappropriately during a Christmas party. The couple alleged in each of their filings that Henshaw regularly disparaged Sgt. Avila in conversations with Mariela Avila out of alleged jealousy. Both husband and wife are represented by the same law firm. “During Mr. Avila’s supervisor Chief Henshaw’s constant belittlement and disparagement, failing to promote him and having sexual intercourse with his wife, Mr. Avila has remained dedicated to his job and maintained a level of professionalism throughout,” wrote attorney Brian Heit in a claim filed with the city for $5 million. “As a result of his dedication, Mr. Avila has been denied promotions, retaliated against and harassed for which he now seeks to address.” City found allegations ‘unfounded’ The Irwindale City Council rejected the couple’s separate claims asking for $5 million each at its Feb. 8 meeting. A staff report at the time indicated the city did not believe it was liable in either case. Henshaw and Capt. John Fraijo, his second-in-command, were placed on administrative leave in June 2022 after a complaint was submitted by Mariela Avila. Henshaw retired the following month to avoid “the emotional toll non-meritorious claims would exact on him,” according to Henshaw’s attorney, Bradley Gage. A February 2023 notice to Henshaw indicates the the city hired Public Safety Consulting Inc. to conduct an “impartial and confidential investigation” into Mariela Avila’s complaint and that investigators found that the allegations against Henshaw were “unfounded.” The investigator interviewed the complainant and others, but not Henshaw, who declined to participate, according to the letter. “The investigation determined that there was not a preponderance of evidence to support her claim,” wrote City Manager Julian Miranda. “Accordingly, no further action will be taken on the personnel complaint and the internal administrative investigation is now deemed closed.” Fraijo has since returned to the department. The Avilas’ lawsuits appear to be based on the same “meritless” allegations already investigated by the city, according to Gage. “As a result, I am confident that when this case is finally adjudicated that Chief Henshaw will be vindicated, as we expect any reasonable trier of fact, like a juror, to determine that there is no merit to the claims against the chief,” Gage said. Heit, meanwhile, did not have any faith in the investigation’s results. Henshaw’s resignation and refusal to participate in the investigation is “extremely telling,” he said. “To our knowledge, they hired a retired police chief to investigate another police chief,” Heit said. “Police notoriously fail to investigate other offices, and this is another example of it.” Passed up for promotion After the affair ended, Avila alleges Henshaw passed him over for a promotion. Avila’s lawsuit alleges he had received “highly satisfactory” performance evaluations from more than a decade and his 2018 evaluation, while the affair was still ongoing, indicated he was the most qualified sergeant for a promotion to lieutenant, according to the claim. However, his rating was dropped to “competent” in subsequent reviews in 2019, 2020 and 2021, the claim alleges. Related Articles “The only explanation for Chief Henshaw choosing to lower Mr. Avila’s performance review scores is because he was jealous that Mrs. Avila broke off her relationship with him and reconciled with Mr. Avila,” Heit wrote. After Avila applied for the lieutenant’s position, the chief selected Fraijo for the promotion instead, even though he had less experience, according to the claim. Yet Henshaw allegedly encouraged Avila to apply again, and Avila feared the chief intended to use a six-month probationary period attached to the role as an excuse to terminate him. The staff report recommending rejection of Avila’s claim states the city followed the proper procedures when choosing the new lieutenant. The lawsuit further alleges Irwindale failed to prevent the retaliation against Avila and perpetuated it after Henshaw resigned by continuing to selectively enforce a nepotism policy that prevented the Avilas from working the same shifts.
HEIT Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
When was HEIT founded?
HEIT was founded in 2002.
Where is HEIT's headquarters?
HEIT's headquarters is located at 3003 E Harmony Road, Fort Collins.
What is HEIT's latest funding round?
HEIT's latest funding round is Acquired.
Who are the investors of HEIT?
Investors of HEIT include CSI.
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