Two former employees of San Bernadino, California, Mayor John Valdivia have accused him of repeated sexual harassment and claim they were so mistreated by him that they had no choice but to resign, NBC Los Angeles reported.
The charges were made by Valdivia’s former assistant Karen Cervantes, and former customer service representative for the City of San Bernadino, Mirna Cisneros.
Cervantes said that when she did not respond to the mayor’s repeated advances and inappropriate correspondence, he would yell at her, mistreat her, and insinuate her job would be in jeopardy “if I didn’t do what he wanted me to do.” Cervantes added the mayor’s behavior toward her during the four months she served as his assistant were so disturbing that she developed health issues.
Cisneros accused the mayor of calling the office while drunk and asking for an appointment with Council member Henry Nickel and, “if it needed to get done, to perform a sexual favor on one of Nickel’s staff members.”
Both women said they complained to a supervisor but their complaints were not addressed until they hired a lawyer. They are in the process of filing a civil claim against the city.
Mayor Valdivia issued a statement denying the charges. “These allegations are false, politically driven and interrupt representative democracy,” he said. “This is a personal matter with an investigation underway and as such, I will make no further comment until the completion of the investigation.”
The women’s attorney called Valdivia’s statement a deflection and a “typical reaction by a public official when he has nothing truthful to say.”
Workplace sexual harassment has been the topic of national conversations since the #MeToo movement provided victims a platform to reclaim their voice and seek justice for the wrongs committed against them. If you think you have been a victim of workplace sexual harassment, it is important to seek the immediate advice of an employment lawyer. Contact Larry Golston, Lauren Miles or Leon Hampton, lawyers in our firm’s Consumer Fraud & Commercial Litigation Section to discuss a possible claim.