A former officer in a Staten Island medical practice alleged in a federal lawsuit that her employer subjected her to ongoing sexual harassment throughout her five years of employment, and retaliated against her after terminating her. Luzzi v. Richmond Primary Care Specialists, et al, No. 1:12-cv-04668, complaint (E.D.N.Y., Sept. 19, 2012). She entered a voluntary dismissal of the lawsuit, without prejudice, on December 10, 2012.
The plaintiff began working for the defendant’s medical practice in March 2007. She alleged that the sexual harassment began almost immediately, and occurred on a daily basis for the following five years. According to the Staten Island Advance, she did not leave the job because she was a single mother with a daughter in college, and the job offered a steady paycheck and health coverage for her family. She alleged that the defendant made her and other employees take a “sex test” online shortly after she began working there, and then ridiculed her for “failing” the test. Other alleged incidents included repeated sexually explicit comments, text messages, and outright propositions for sexual activity. On at least one occasion, the plaintiff claimed, the defendant invited her to watch sexually explicit videos on the computer in his office.
The plaintiff reportedly also clashed with the defendant over payroll issues. In the summer of 2012, she claimed that he fired almost half of the employees, requiring one employee to work extra hours while other employees were gone on vacation. The plaintiff alleged that she insisted the employee receive overtime pay, and that the defendant verbally assaulted her and fired her as a result. He also, the plaintiff claimed, ordered her to vacate the apartment she was renting from him. At some point after this, the plaintiff’s daughter backed into the plaintiff’s car, but did not tell her what happened. This led the plaintiff to file a police report, then withdraw it when her daughter admitted what happened. In early September 2012, when the plaintiff and defendant were unable to reach a settlement of the disputes between them, the defendant allegedly provided information to the police about the accident that resulted in a charge against the plaintiff of filing a false police report.
On September 19, 2012, the plaintiff filed suit against the defendant and his medical practice in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. The lawsuit claimed unlawful retaliation under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) and the New York Labor Law, and sexual harassment and retaliation under the New York State Human Rights Law and the New York City Human Rights Law. The plaintiff sought compensatory and punitive damages, back pay, reinstatement in her job with fringe benefits, and liquidated damages as authorized under state and federal labor laws. The only federal law cited was the FLSA, which she used to plead the federal court’s jurisdiction over the case. She filed a voluntary dismissal of the lawsuit, without prejudice, on December 10 under Federal Rule of Civil Procedure 41(a)(1)(A)(i). “Without prejudice” means that she may re-file the lawsuit within the applicable statute of limitations.
The lawyers at Phillips & Associates represent victims of workplace sexual harassment and discrimination in New York City and surrounding areas, fighting to protect their rights at the municipal, state, and federal levels. To schedule a free and confidential consultation, contact us today online or at (212) 248-7431.
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Photo credit: By Mike Pepe [CC BY-SA 2.5], via Wikimedia Commons.