Sexual Harassment and Retaliation in Texas: Mixed Verdict for Stressed Out Deputy Constable

Last Friday, Lois Martin won a $35,000 judgment against Mario Guevara, a former Dallas County Deputy Mario Guevara, pursuant to allegations that Guevara had harassed her and made explicit sexual advances towards her at work. The jury in the trial awarded Martin $25,000 in damages as well as $10,000 for pain and anguish. The jury further found that Dallas County itself was not liable for Guevara’s actions. County representatives successfully argued that the government responded effectively after Martin reported the harassment.

Here’s some detailed background on the case:

Lois Martin joined the constable office of Precinct 5 in 2002. In 2008, voters elected a new constable, Jaime Cortes, who transferred Martin to a new division to be tutored and trained by Deputy Guevara.

Martin initially looked at this opportunity as a dream job, but it quickly “turned into a nightmare,” when Guevara purportedly made advances on her. According to an AP report: “He tried to touch her and told her she looked fine and had a nice butt… he wanted to give her a massage and made repeated suggestive remarks about her body and her smell.”

Martin at first shied away from speaking to Cortes about what was going on, but then Guevara sent her an explicit and uncouth text message. She forwarded this message to human resources. Guevara immediately resigned. Martin feared that she would be retaliated against… and she claims she was. After the report, she was investigated for parking in a “no parking” area.

Although Martin lost her case against Dallas County, she and two other deputies succeeded in getting Cortes to resign from office in 2010, after leveling multiple allegations, ranging from incompetence to misuse of county property to criminal conduct.

After Cortes resigned, Beth Villarreal stepped into serve out the term as the new Precinct 5 constable.

As Martin’s story suggests, dealing with sexual harassment, retaliation, and other employer misconduct can be a stressful and fraught process, even if the facts are on your side and if your Human Resources department offers compassionate and immediate assistance.

For peace of mind — and to make sure that you are talking full advantage of the resources that the law provides you — get in touch with a trained employment discrimination firm for a free consultation. Connect with lawyers at the law firm of Joseph & Kirschenbaum now at www.jhllp.com or (212) 688-5640.