Los Angeles, CA- Last week, Univision severed ties with radio show host Eddie “Piolín” Sotelo, who is popular with Mexican immigrants, without explanation. But the Los Angeles Times uncovered documents which showed the radio show host was let go after he was slapped with a sexual harassment lawsuit by a male coworker.
Alberto “Beto” Cortez, a writer, producer and performer on Sotelo’s syndicated radio program, alleges he was sexually harassed for a period of three years ending in January, the LA Times reported.
Cortez alleges in a letter sent to Univision in April that Sotelo “sexually, physically and emotionally” harassed him during his time on the show. The letter was sent to Univision asking them to settle with Cortez or they would make the harassment public.
In the documents obtained by the LA Times, Cortez states that Sotelo made repeated sexual advances which included grabbing his buttocks and genitals when he would arrive at the studio.
Cortez’s also alleges that Sotelo would humiliate him in staff meetings, calling him a derogatory name for homosexual, and telling him to just admit that he was gay. Sotelo would also ask Cortez vulgar questions about his girlfriend, the Times reported.
Robert R. Clayton, the attorney representing Cortez, also said in the letter that other employees observed the sexual misconduct and were themselves subjected to Sotelo’s inappropriate behavior.
Cortez also claims that he and other staff members were asked to falsify letters in order to push for immigration reform. Sotelo has used his radio program to encourage lawmakers to push for reform but when a petition drive fell short of the million signatures they hoped to gather he ordered his employees to “clandestinely photocopy letters so that it would appear as if he had gathered 1 million signatures,” Clayton wrote according to the Times.
In addition to harassment and being asked to falsify documents, Cortez alleges he was forced to work long hours without breaks or compensation and was threatened with dismissal when he complained.
Cortez also accused Univision of ignoring Sotelo’s behavior because he was a “cash cow” for the broadcaster and violating their own employment policies.
In January, the hostile work environment was so toxic that Cortez was forced to take a medical leave of absence. He returned to work at the end of June.
Sotelo’s attorney Jeffery Spitz vehemently disputes the claims stating that Cortez just wants money.
In a statement to the Times, Spitz said “A disgruntled, troubled employee has made malicious and false claims about Eddie Sotelo.” Adding, “This was done as part of a demand for money…. The employee worked with Eddie for more than a decade. The employee’s allegations of harassment and falsification of immigration letters are pure fiction intended to gain a financial settlement.”
Though Sotelo disputes Cortez’s claims, employment law experts believe that the claims could be legitimate since Univision severed ties with the radio show host which has consistently ranked number one and is heard in over 50 markets across the country.