A fired police officer sued the city of Paso Robles on Tuesday, alleging that its former police chief made sexual advances and retaliated against his rejections.
The lawsuit in San Luis Obispo Superior Court by former Paso Robles Police Department Officer Brennan Lux, 38, describes graphically his allegations of sexual advances by former department Chief Lisa Solomon.
The suit, which only gives Lux’s side, details accusations of how Solomon retaliated against Lux after he declined her advances, which he says led to his termination in the fall.
The lawsuit, which lists 50 unnamed defendants and names Solomon in the narrative, claims that the city presented a hostile work environment, failed to prevent harassment and failed to prevent retaliation against an employee. Solomon is not named as a defendant.
“I didn’t come forward before because I was ashamed and thought I could move forward, but it never ended,” Lux said Tuesday. “I knew in my heart that there was a personal agenda behind it (my termination), and that was one of the reasons I came forward with this.”
Lux — now a sergeant in the King City Police Department — is seeking unspecified amounts for expenses associated with health care, loss of earnings, attorney fees and other damages.
His attorneys also say Lux suffered pain, distress, damage of reputation and anguish, among other emotional damages. He is requesting a jury trial.
Solomon and city officials did not return requests for comment late Tuesday.
Solomon, 43, resigned from her position April 2 after public attention swelled around her when Lux accused her of sexual harassment and another officer filed a separate lawsuit claiming officers were required to meet illegal ticket quotas.
Details of the lawsuit
Lux said he worked for the Paso Robles Police Department from August 2001 to November 2011 with positive performance reviews as a police officer and a sergeant until the alleged retaliation began.
Solomon and Lux had a professional relationship until 2006, when Solomon, a lieutenant at the time, reportedly began encouraging Lux to take the sergeant’s exam, insisting he call her “Lisa” instead of “ma’am,” and the two became friends outside of work, according to the lawsuit.
Lux contends that in late 2006, following a charity event after-party, Solomon began “caressing his leg and asked him for a ride home.”
Lux declined, “insisting they remain friends,” according to the lawsuit.
Similar behavior continued into 2007, when Solomon initiated “intimate sexual contact” at Lux’s home and he stopped her, and when Solomon cried during a work meeting and “angrily accused him of being distant with her,” Lux’s attorneys said in the suit. Lux said he maintained that they should only have a professional relationship from then on.
Later that year, Lux passed his sergeant’s exam, making him eligible for promotion with two other applicants. Solomon recommended him, according to the suit, and Lux became a sergeant in July 2007. The same day, Solomon was promoted to police chief.
During Super Bowl weekend in 2008, Solomon held a mandatory team-building workshop with other supervisory officers at the Carmel Valley Lodge near Monterey.
It was in a hot tub there with other officers that Solomon allegedly grabbed Lux’s penis, twice, after becoming intoxicated and exposing her breasts to the group, according to the lawsuit.
Lux says in the lawsuit that he objected to the touches, at one point entering the swimming pool instead and later leaving altogether.
Solomon asked Lux “not to say anything about the events of the evening before” and became “markedly cooled” toward Lux when he pushed to keep their relationship professional thereafter, according to the suit.
Following that incident, Lux said Solomon retaliated against him by directing department supervisors to scrutinize his activities — which his attorneys described as trivial and petty write-ups and unwarranted disciplinary actions — and aggressively pursue discipline against him.
He was so harassed that he opted to step down from his sergeant role back to police officer, Lux claims. In fall 2011, Solomon recommended Lux’s termination to City Manager Jim App after a series of internal affairs proceedings within the city, according to the suit. Lux was terminated Nov. 22.
The lawsuit is the second against the police department in recent months. In February, Paso Robles police Officer Jon Tatro sued the city for alleged workplace retaliation he says resulted from a failure to meet illegal traffic-ticket quotas.