Hilario De Leon, a former City of Brownsville employee, is suing the city for allegedly being fired after he reported alleged assaultive and sexual harassment experienced by three females who were 16, 17 and 18 years old by a male recreational attendant employed by the city.
De Leon was employed with The City of Brownsville for a little over 10 years serving in its Public Works Department and Parks and Recreation Department, the lawsuit reads. De Leon met while on duty with the three Keep Brownsville Beautiful volunteers on Aug. 9, 2019, and they complained that a male recreational attendant employed by the City of Brownsville Park’s Department had acted inappropriately while under his care and supervision, the lawsuit reads.
The allegation made was that the male city recreational attendant on a routine basis had physically assaulted and sexually harassed a 16-year-old female KBB volunteer by grabbing her from behind her body, the lawsuit reads.
According to the lawsuit, De Leon immediately notified Park Ranger Georgie Garcia, a member of Keep Brownsville Beautiful, of what he was told by the three females and Garcia requested the complaints be placed in writing to De Leon.
“After Supervisor [Raul] Maraboto received the email complaints forwarded by Plaintiff [De Leon] from the three KBB volunteers, another supervisor, Gloria Gonzalez, assigned to the Parks and Recreation Department was to hold a meeting on September 17, 2019 with the female KBB volunteers and their parents,” the lawsuit reads. “The meeting that was to take place on September 17, 2019, was cancelled and was rescheduled for the next day, September 18, 2019 that was not attended by any KBB volunteer or parents, only supervisor Gonzalez and Park Ranger Garcia.”
The lawsuit states that on Oct. 2, 2019 Parks and Recreation Department Director Damaris McGlone met with Gloria Gonzalez and De Leon regarding “communication.” During that meeting, De Leon informed McGlone of the allegations but McGlone advised De Leon to only report to her regarding any allegations or complaints from KBB volunteers, the lawsuit reads.
“McGlone went further to order [De Leon] that any reporting of alleged misconduct or wrongdoing would have to go to her first. On October 14, 2019, another meeting took place between Gloria Gonzalez and Park Ranger Georgie Garcia with KBB volunteers and their parents who had complained of the physical assault and sexual harassment learned by [De Leon],” the lawsuit reads. “Surprisingly, [De Leon] was excluded from the meeting and afterwards the KBB volunteer who had complained informed [De Leon] that Gonzalez downplayed and had concluded that their complaints were not valid. … [De Leon] realized at this moment that a cover up was currently ongoing by [the City of Brownsville].”
De Leon contacted Board Chairman Oscar Zertuche and met with him in person on Oct.15 to discuss and inform him of the allegations that had been made of the alleged assaultive behavior and sexual harassment of the female KBB volunteer, the lawsuit states.
“On the same day [De Leon] was summoned by supervisor Gonzalez and handed a letter of suspension with pay for alleged insubordination and failure to follow the chain of command contained in a pre-disciplinary notice signed by Director McGlone,” the lawsuit reads.
Allegedly, De Leon on Oct. 18 filed a police report to report criminal wrongdoing against the male recreational attendant and on Oct. 30, De Leon and his legal counsel attended a pre-disciplinary hearing where he presented a written statement to McGlone that he had filed the police report, according to the lawsuit.
“[De Leon] on Nov. 22, 2019 received a notice from Director McGlone that was copied to City Manager Noel Bernal that he was to be fired from his job after 10 years of employment,” the lawsuit states. “
De Leon appealed his termination through the whistleblower complaint as required by the City of Brownsville personnel policy. On Jan. 28, 2020 De Leon received notice that his appeal had been concluded, according to the lawsuit.
“Assistant City manager Elizabeth Walker when apprised of the facts of the report made by [De Leon] and the retaliation from [The City of Brownsville], nevertheless ‘rubber stamped’ [De Leon]’s termination,” the lawsuit reads.
The lawsuit, which was filed Monday, states that the male recreational attendant employed by the City of Brownsville is believed to still be employed as of the date of filing.
When asked for comment, The City of Brownsville said “it is the policy of the City of Brownsville not to comment regarding pending litigation.”