Former employee sues Weslaco for sexual harassment

A former Weslaco city employee has filed a lawsuit against the city, claiming she was forced to resign after filing sexual harassment complaints against a supervisor.

The suit was filed on Dec. 10, 2020, by Gloria Oliva, 50, who claims that the city’s finance director, Vidal Roman, made “unwanted sexual advances” toward her.

She further claims the city knew of, and ignored, her complaints — instead retaliating against her by denying her pay raises due to her age and gender.

“During her employment at the City of Weslaco, Plaintiff was subjected to unwanted sexual advances from a supervisor, Vidal Roman,” reads a copy of the complaint filed in Hidalgo County Court-at-Law No. 7.

“The unwanted sexual advances started out as verbal comments which made Plaintiff feel uncomfortable such as calling her ‘Babe’. The verbal comments then progressed to ‘I love you.’ (sic) Mr. Roman would also call Plaintiff ‘Love,’” it further reads.

Oliva also claims Roman had invited her to smoke marijuana with him.

According to the complaint, Oliva worked for the city for nine years, and reported the harassment to the city’s human resources department. However, the “Defendant failed to take remedial action and created a hostile work environment,” it reads.

Oliva claims the city instead allowed the harassment to continue, creating a hostile work environment that ultimately prompted her to resign.

“The working conditions created by the city of Weslaco created such a hostile work environment such that no reasonable person would continue to endure it under the circumstances and created a constructive discharge situation on October 9th, 2019,” the complaint reads.

On April 4 of last year, Oliva took her complaint to the Texas Workforce Commission’s Civil Rights Division. The TWC ultimately dismissed the charge, issuing a letter on Oct. 27, 2020, informing Oliva of her right to file a civil lawsuit against the city.

Oliva’s is seeking between $250,000 to $750,000, including back pay, lost wages, retirement and fringe benefits, lost future earnings and attorney’s fees.

She’s also seeking exemplary damages, claiming that Weslaco acted “with malice, actual malice and/or a specific intent to injure the Plaintiff.”

Weslaco City Manager Mike Perez declined to comment, citing the pending litigation. The city has yet to file a response to the complaint.