Jul 012014

By Linda Kor

Employees of the City of Holbrook’s water/wastewater department are alleging multiple complaints against City Manager Ray Alley and have filed three separate lawsuits in Navajo County Superior Court. The complainants include Louis Baldonado Jr., Armando Aguilera, with the third lawsuit including plaintiffs Markos Serna, Michael Kennedy, Oscar Chairez and Carlos Jimenez.

The documents, dated June 18, list allegations of abuse of power, intentional infliction of emotional distress, pay discrimination and invasion of privacy, all on the part of Alley.

Among the claims listed in the lawsuit it is alleged that a tracking device was installed in the work trucks of the employees of that department without their knowledge and that no tracking devices were installed in the vehicles used by other city departments.

It is also alleged that Alley allegedly increased the pay of people who he has a personal relationship with. Those employees listed in the claim include Julie Harrison, who is listed as a water/wastewater maintenance worker; Ray Alley Jr., a fleet services technician and Lance Spencer, chief operator at the wastewater treatment plant.

When asked if raises, other than uniform annual increases for all employees have been taking place, Assistant Manager Randy Sullivan stated that the city had operated a program in which employees who received any additional certification received a 50 cent raise per certification and that the program lasted about two years. He did not indicate that this had any bearing on the accusations being made but said the program has been discontinued.

The documents also claim that Harrison, who resides with Alley’s daughter, received a 43.6 percent pay increase within a three year period. Spencer, who is Harrison’s co-worker, received a 35 percent pay increase since March of 2010 and Alley, the city manager’s nephew, who was hired in 2012 as fleet services technician makes more than all water/wastewater employees aside from high seniority employees such as Baldonado and Aguilera.

The salary documents provided by the city show that Alley does earn about a third more than two of the wastewater employees who have been employed for the same amount of time with the city but does not state what duties or certifications each of the employees have.

It is also alleged in each of the claims that Harrison and Ray Alley Jr. are both Anglo and that plaintiffs were denied opportunity to advance in pay within the City of Holbrook due to their Hispanic race.

In the lawsuits filed by Baldonado, who has been employed with the city for 15 years and is a senior water/wastewater employee, and Aguilera, who has been employed with the city for 32 years as is the manager of that department, they allege that Alley went to Aguilera’s home while he was on a day off, and told Aguilera that Baldonado would be fired if he make any further information requests from the City of Holbrook regarding Alley’s gasoline acquisition and pay scale. Both men allege that Aguilera received a less than excellent job evaluation because Baldonado is part of Aguilera’s crew.”

Baldonado asserts in his claim that Alley hired Patrick Serna for the position of Street Department Head because Ally owed Serna a favor. He also alleges that proper notice of the vacancy was made and that the position closed before Baldonado could apply for the position. In addition, he states that in September of 2013 he was reassigned to the River/Levy Department without reason.

In each of the lawsuits it claims that when a wire became loose in a tracking device on one of the department’s vehicles Alley ordered all the department workers to undergo an investigation by the Holbrook Police Department rather than an internal investigation by administration.

The men also allege that Alley installed a camera without their knowledge in the dressing area of the department where they change into and out of their work clothes. They further claim that they never gave permission for the camera in a place where there should be a reasonable expectation of privacy.

In the documents filed with the court it’s noted that each plaintiff is seeking monetary damages in an amount to be proven at trial to include costs incurred as part of the trial, interest on judgment due and other further relief as the court deems to be just and proper. Attorney Eduardo H. Coronado of the Coronado Law Firm is handling the claims of each of the parties involved.