Editor's Note: This article was updated at 6:45 p.m. Wednesday with comments from Fire Chief Jesse Alba's attorney.
Waukesha Fire Chief Jesse Alba will be placed on administrative leave with pay until the Police and Fire Commission decides his fate after he was accused of violating several city policies, including sexual harassment.
The complaint filed against the fire chief by Waukesha Mayor Jeff Scrima alleges that the fire chief violated several policies in the city, including the anti-harassment policy, the core values statement, administrative statement and the Waukesha Fire Department’s rules of conduct.
Alba is accused of telling a female subordinate that he was in love with her, asking her to resign because he couldn’t focus on his job or the fire chief promotion, according to a complaint filed against Alba. If she didn’t leave, the complaint states, Alba threatened her job if he were to be named fire chief.
Alba was promoted to fire chief in May. The allegations were brought forward shortly after he was sworn into office. However, city leaders asked him to resign three times following an independent investigation before Scrima and City Administrator Ed Henschel filed disciplinary actions against him seeking termination.
The Police and Fire Commission, under state statutes, is an independent governing body from the city that makes hiring, disciplinary and termination decisions for police and fire employees.
Alba’s attorney, Victor Platinga, asked the commission to only consider one charge against Alba because they involve matters that occurred before he was promoted to fire chief.
“We contend that only one of the charges may move forward on that basis,” Plantinga said.
Plantinga also argued that Alba wants to remain in the fire department and that he has fully executed his duties despite pressures to resign and public statements about the case from city leaders that “undermine Mr. Alba’s ability to lead his department.”
“That is not on Mr. Alba,” Plantinga said.
However, Henschel told the commissioners that the case has caused friction, morale and uncertainty in the department.
“Working relationships are stressful at best,” Henschel said.Ultimately, the commission agreed and suspended Alba. The disciplinary hearing will be held at 9 a.m. Sept. 12 at City Hall.
Meanwhile, Plantinga said in a news release that Alba had a consensual sexual relationship with the subordinate.
"This relationship never occurred on duty," Platinga said. "This relationship also ended before the process for hiring a chief took place. While Chief Alba regrets the decision he made in his personal life, it is unfortunate that this decision must impact Chief Alba professionally. We look forward to presenting this evidence and question the credibility of witnesses whom the city is relying on to bring these charges."
The woman, who the complaint says told a co-worker she was happily married and was not interested in Alba, voluntarily resigned on June 1, Henschel said in July.
“My understanding is that she resigned on June 1 due to a request by her husband, who said ‘I don’t want you around this man,’” Henschel said.