Jury rules in favor of former Waukesha fire chief, who filed defamation lawsuit against woman he had affair with

WAUKESHA -- A jury ruled in favor of former Waukesha Fire Chief Jesse Alba, who filed a defamation lawsuit against a woman he had an affair with. Alba and his wife filed the suit against the woman who ultimately played a role in Alba losing his job with the Waukesha Fire Department.

According to a statement from Alba's attorney, after a seven-day trial, the jury ruled that the woman defamed Alba "intentionally, without consent and without any legal privilege."

After a promotion to Waukesha's fire chief in May of 2013, Alba quickly found himself fighting to keep his job. Months later, he was demoted from fire chief to firefighter. Then, he said he struggled to even get interviews with departments.

"You do a Google search, even today, and what do you find? One of the first things that came up today, 'fire chief demoted for sexual harassment,'" said Douglas Rose, Alba's attorney.

Rose said the affair was consensual and there was no harassment.

"As a result of this jury verdict, his name has now, finally, been cleared of the horrible allegation of sexual harassment. Mr. Alba remains forever remorseful about having an affair. He has always adamantly denied any sexual harassment and the improper allegations. Those who reached that wrongful conclusion about sexual harassment occurring, including the City of Waukesha Police and Fire Commission, should now realize that was not true," said Alba's attorney in a statement following the verdict.

Alba's attorney noted Alba presented evidence of significant financial damages during this trial, but he did not request any specific dollar amount and instead asked the jury to clear his name.

What ultimately got Alba in trouble with the Waukesha Police and Fire Commission, was asking the woman to quit after the six-month-long affair ended because it was distracting to both of them at work. He was accused of violating the anti-harassment policy and the Waukesha Fire Department's Code of Conduct. The woman ultimately did resign.

Alba appealed his demotion from fire chief to firefighter, and a judge ruled ruled that the commission that determined the discipline in this case was also the commission that had hired Alba a few months earlier. The commission had made a determination that Alba had lied to them during the interview process -- and therefore, the judge ruled that the commission was tainted -- and denied Alba due process. The judge ordered the case remanded to the city of Waukesha, and called for a new hearing before a new commission.

Following the judge's decision, Alba's attorney asked that he be reinstated as fire chief, and he be paid back pay pending his new hearing. The court denied that request.