State HIV/AIDS official reportedly faced firing, quit
Watchdog advised termination for sexual harassment
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.