Former Elsa officer files discrimination lawsuit

A former Elsa Police Department officer filed a lawsuit against the city last month alleging she was singled out and fired for violating the department’s body camera policy even though male officers also violated the policy.

Maria Camarena, 52, began working with the police department in 2013 and was fired last year for violating the policy even though “younger male officers … violated the department’s body camera policy,” but remain employed, according to the age and sex discrimination lawsuit filed in state district court.

“With this particular situation, we have documentation to justify the reasons for termination,” said city attorney Gus Acevedo, who added those reasons will be disclosed during proceedings surrounding the case.

About five months after being fired, Camarena filed an employment discrimination complaint with the Texas Workforce Commission, alleging at least three other male officers in their 20s were treated differently than her, and she complained about discrimination to police Chief Primitivo Rodriguez on “several occasions,” according to the document.

The commission dismissed the complaint and closed the case in May, allowing her to file a lawsuit within 60 days.

Camarena’s attorney in the case, Mauro Ruiz, requested the city provide a slew of information, including personnel files, evaluations and audio recording. Camarena was apparently never placed on a performance improvement plan prior to the termination, according to records submitted as part of the lawsuit.

The city was served with the lawsuit this month, but has until at least next week to submit a written response.

Camarena seeks monetary relief of up to $1 million.