BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — Bakersfield’s former assistant police chief is facing a sexual harassment lawsuit from his job in a company providing portable toilet services.
Evan Demestihas and Knight’s Site Services are named as defendants in a suit filed by a former employee alleging sexual harassment and wrongful termination.
The suit alleges Demestihas showed “an inappropriate and unwanted sexual interest” in the woman both inside the office and when she was off work.
“To us it’s pretty clear he broke the law and subjected her to behavior that is not legal,” said Drew Levine, an attorney with Los Angeles-based Melmed Law Group, the firm representing the woman.
The suit seeks damages an amount to be proven at trial. A hearing is scheduled July 28.
A message left for Demestihas at Knight’s Site Services on Thursday morning was not immediately returned. No attorney was listed in court records for him or the company.
Demestihas has been the subject of multiple investigations and legal matters in recent years.
They include an altercation with his ex-wife outside a Bakersfield bar, an arrest on suspicion of drunken driving last year and a lawsuit he brought against the Bakersfield Police Department alleging he was forced out of law enforcement because he cooperated with the Attorney General’s Office investigation of a deadly shooting by the son of then-Bakersfield Police Chief Lyle Martin.
Police spokesman Sgt. Robert Pair said Demestihas is on leave, using personal accruals.
According to the sexual harassment suit, the woman was hired June 1 as a dispatcher at the Knight’s location on James Road in Bakersfield. In November, the suit says, Demestihas offered her a promotion to Human Resources.
Afterward, he began sending sexually graphic texts — including photos of his penis, according to the suit.
The woman, the suit says, is “a single mother who depends on her paycheck for survival,” and “believed that not only her promotion but her job itself depended on her responding favorably to Demestihas, whose reputation as having power in the company was well-known.”
She decided to “string him along” while looking for another job, according to the suit.
But the following month, at a company Christmas party, Demestihas made another sexual remark, according to the suit. She rejected him.
Within a week, she was demoted back to dispatch, according to the suit.
“Additionally, plaintiff’s supervisors and some co-workers, who were and are good friends with Demestihas, began to bully her in the workplace immediately following the Christmas party, speaking to her in hostile tones, if they spoke to her at all,” according to the suit.
Earlier this year, the woman experienced a medical issue. She got advance approval to attend appointments that conflicted with her work schedule, according to the suit.
On March 23, she was fired for what the Human Resources director told her was “excessive medical absenteeism,” according to the suit. It also alleges the company denied her state-required breaks, and failed to pay her for the missed breaks.