State HIV/AIDS of­fi­cial re­port­edly faced fir­ing, quit

Watch­dog ad­vised ter­mi­na­tion for sex­ual ha­rass­ment

Chicago Tribune (Sunday) - - CHICAGOLAN­D - By Dan Pe­trella dpe­trella@chicagotri­bune .com

The head of the Illi­nois De­part­ment of Pub­lic Health’s HIV/AIDS pro­gram re­signed in May af­ter a state watch­dog rec­om­mended he be fired for vi­o­lat­ing the agency’s sex­ual ha­rass­ment pol­icy and ver­bally abusing staff, ac­cord­ing to a re­cently re­leased re­port.

Ed­uardo Al­varado also fal­si­fied in­for­ma­tion on his ini­tial ap­pli­ca­tion for a job with the de­part­ment and on his time­cards, ac­cord­ing to the find­ings of an in­ves­ti­ga­tion by the Of­fice of Ex­ec­u­tive In­spec­tor Gen­eral, which was prompted by anony­mous com­plaints.

Al­varado, who was hired by the De­part­ment of Pub­lic Health in July 2014 and be­came HIV/ AIDS sec­tion chief the fol­low­ing year, re­signed from his $95,000-per-year job May 22, when he was called in for a ter­mi­na­tion meet­ing at the rec­om­men­da­tion of the in­spec­tor gen­eral’s of­fice, ac­cord­ing to the re­port.

The res­ig­na­tion came eight days af­ter Al­varado at­tended a Spring­field news con­fer­ence at which Gov. J.B. Pritzker an­nounced the launch of the “Get­ting to Zero Illi­nois” plan, with the goal of elim­i­nat­ing the spread of HIV in the state by 2030. In his res­ig­na­tion let­ter, Al­varado called the an­nounce­ment “a mo­ment of honor.”

“To­day, I put my own needs first and ten­der my res­ig­na­tion from the Illi­nois De­part­ment of Pub­lic Health,” he wrote in a let­ter ad­dressed to Di­rec­tor Ngozi Ezike. “This plan has in­spired me to get back to Com­mu­nity, Ad­vo­cacy, and per­haps even di­rect ser­vice.”

Asked why Al­varado was al­lowed to re­sign rather than be­ing fired, a spokesper­son said the de­part­ment can­not com­ment on per­son­nel mat­ters. Be­cause he worked for the state for less than 10 years, Al­varado is not el­i­gi­ble for a pub­lic pen­sion.

Al­varado, who worked out of the agency’s Chicago of­fice, could not be reached for com­ment.

The in­spec­tor gen­eral rec­om­mended Al­varado’s ter­mi­na­tion be­cause his be­hav­ior, which al­legedly in­cluded un­wanted hug­ging, kiss­ing and touch­ing of de­part­ment em­ploy­ees and col­leagues from other or­ga­ni­za­tions, cre­ated “an in­tim­i­dat­ing, hos­tile or of­fen­sive work en­vi­ron­ment.”

In one case, a Pub­lic Health em­ployee told in­ves­ti­ga­tors that Al­varado “greeted him with a kiss on the lips once or twice” in the agency’s of­fice. Af­ter the first cou­ple of times, the em­ployee, whose iden­ti­fy­ing in­for­ma­tion is redacted in the re­port, said he started turn­ing his head to avoid the kisses be­cause they made him un­com­fort­able. He did not re­port any­thing to his su­per­vi­sor or con­front Al­varado “be­cause he did not want to be rude or em­bar­rass Mr. Al­varado,” ac­cord­ing to the re­port.

Dur­ing an in­ter­view with in­ves­ti­ga­tors, Al­varado ini­tially de­nied kiss­ing de­part­ment em­ploy­ees on the lips, then said it was “not some­thing I would nor­mally do” un­less the per­son was “very close” to him. He told in­ves­ti­ga­tors “that greet­ing peo­ple with a hug or kiss is ‘nor­ma­tive be­hav­ior’ for gay men and is the tra­di­tional greet­ing in Spanish or Latino cul­ture,” ac­cord­ing to the re­port.

Be­cause Ed­uardo Al­varado worked for the state for less than 10 years, he is not el­i­gi­ble for a pub­lic pen­sion.

The in­ves­ti­ga­tion also found that Al­varado pro­vided false in­for­ma­tion on his ap­pli­ca­tion for a job with the De­part­ment of Pub­lic Health in 2014, claim­ing he left a pre­vi­ous job for a bet­ter op­por­tu­nity when he was ac­tu­ally fired.

Al­varado was fired from his job as a physi­cian as­sis­tant in Cal­i­for­nia in 2009 af­ter com­plaints that he had en­gaged in “sex­ual mis­con­duct” with a pa­tient, ac­cord­ing to the re­port. Cal­i­for­nia re­voked his li­cense in 2013 for en­gag­ing in a sex­ual re­la­tion­ship with a pa­tient. His state job in Illi­nois did not re­quire a physi­cian as­sis­tant li­cense.

At the rec­om­men­da­tion of the in­spec­tor gen­eral, the De­part­ment of Pub­lic Health placed a let­ter in Al­varado’s per­son­nel file in­di­cat­ing that he shouldn’t be re­hired by the state.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.