A UC Irvine employee accused of posting anti-Semitic and anti-black photos online has been reassigned to a job that will minimize his contact with students, according to a campus officials.
The move, which was made Monday, comes after a campus investigation into a full-time parking enforcement officer, Carlos Vazquez, who has been on paid leave since October, when CBS-2 aired a segment accusing Vazquez of racist postings on his personal Instagram account
The posts allegedly included a picture of Hitler holding a child captioned, “Proud father moment when my daughter met the great [fuehrer],” and another depicting a black child captioned, “Waking up in juvenile jail. It’s in their blood.”
Campus spokeswoman Cathy Lawhon said she couldn’t reveal details of the investigation but said Vazquez will now work in a parking office at the UCI Medical Center in Orange instead of at UCI’s main campus.
“After a three-month investigation into any violations of law or policy, it was decided that he should be reassigned to a job,” Lawhon said. “And I do not have access to any of the reports or anything, but the action speaks for itself.”
Vazquez also worked at Golden West College in Huntington Beach as a campus safety officer, but officials fired him in October after CBS showed them the racist images allegedly posted by Vazquez.
At the time, Jon Arnold, Golden West’s public safety director, explained that Vazquez was a part-time employee who could be let go at will.
Arnold would not say in October if the firing was directly related to the Instagram posts, but he did call Vazquez’s alleged behavior “improper” and “offensive.”
Though rationale was not made public, UCI may have retained Vazquez due to free-speech protections extended to public-sector employees.
Because he is a full-time employee at UCI, firing Vazquez over a personal posting online is more complicated than determining whether it’s offensive or racist, said Manoj Mate, an assistant professor at Whittier Law School in Costa Mesa, who teaches and researches in constitutional, election, and international and comparative law.
“If a public employee is exercising their first amendment right to free speech as a private citizen on a matter of public concern, the question is whether that speech is likely to cause disruption or interfere with the university’s ability to operate and function efficiently,” Mate said.
“This goes to the heart of the First Amendment and the scope of protections for public employees.”