Former Bosque Farms officer sues for wrongful termination

........................................................................................................................................................................................

A former Bosque Farms police officer filed a lawsuit that alleges sexual discrimination from Police Chief Greg Jones and a lieutenant after she said she was wrongfully terminated from the department.

The lawsuit, filed March 8, claims former officer Leslie Lopez was wrongfully terminated following repeated incidents of discrimination including harassment and intimidation on the basis of her sex.

The lawsuit names the chief and Lt. Wayne Jones, and the village of Bosque Farms as plaintiffs in the case.

"Since there is a lawsuit that has been filed, obviously I cannot speak about it until it has been settled," Chief Jones said in an email.

The suit claims Lopez did not receive a pay increase when she was promoted to sergeant in December 2009. The lawsuit alleges a male officer, who was demoted from the rank of sergeant, continued to receive higher pay.

From July 2010 to January 2011, Lopez complained to both the chief and his lieutenant that "she felt that she was being targeted for harassment and improper treatment" because she was a female, the lawsuit states.

On one occasion, Lt. Jones told Lopez he was aware of her complaints, but "dismissed them without any further investigation or action," according to the lawsuit.

The lawsuit claims that Lopez was not compensated for attendance at firing range training as were all other Bosque Farms Police Department employees in November 2010.

Lopez was demoted from sergeant to field officer in January 2011 and shortly after, she filed a complaint with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission alleging she was discriminated against.

When the chief and his lieutenant learned of the complaint, the lawsuit states, the chief made a written recommendation to Bosque Farms administrators that Lopez be terminated from her position.

On April 12, a search warrant was ordered to be conducted at the homes of Lopez and Lopez's mother to investigate "an employment issue," the lawsuit said.

The suit said "numerous personal items" were seized from Lopez's home and "baseless" criminal charges of tampering with public records were filed against the former officer. Those charges were eventually dismissed.

According to the lawsuit, the EEOC "found reasonable cause" the police department discriminated and retaliated against Lopez and continues to unlawfully hold property and belongings of the former officer.

Attorneys for the former officer have requested compensatory and punitive damages, including "back pay, front pay" and attorney's fees and costs as part of the lawsuit. No exact monetary value was named in the lawsuit.

The lawsuit claims Lopez suffered emotional distress, lost wages, embarrassment and humiliation as "a direct and proximate result" of unlawful acts by the plaintiffs.

Chief Jones and Lt. Jones allegedly "intentionally enhanced and enforced a clear pattern of adverse employment actions" toward Lopez, according to the lawsuit.

Lopez claims the two men singled her out "for harsh scrutiny," including yelling at her and micromanaging her work.

Both the chief and lieutenant created a hostile work environment during her employment with the department, the lawsuit said.

Darin Foster, an attorney for Lopez, declined to comment on the case.


-- Email the author at bruffner@news-bulletin.com.