A former New York City police sergeant has responded to allegations of sexual harassment by asserting his own employment law claims. A female officer filed complaints with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the New York State Human Rights Commission (NYSHRC), accusing the sergeant of a range of inappropriate behaviors. In response, the police department put him on modified duty pending an investigation. The sergeant then filed a notice of intent to sue the city, asserting that the sexual harassment complaint is false and that the city was wrong to put him on modified duty.
NYPD Officer Ann Cardenas alleges that her supervisor, Sergeant David John, subjected her to ongoing sexual harassment and hostile work environment for a period of about a year. She claims that he “repeatedly groped and grinded against” her, called her by an obscene nickname, made unwanted sexual advances, and showed her pictures of his genitals. One time during the summer of 2013, she alleges, he grabbed her while she was sitting on a couch and held her down while trying to kiss her.
Cardenas filed complaints against John with the EEOC and the NYSHRC in January 2014, alleging sexual harassment in violation of federal and state law. Sexual harassment is considered a form of unlawful discrimination based on sex or gender under both Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the New York State Human Rights Law. Both laws require a claimant to submit a claim to a government agency, which will investigate and attempt to resolve the claim, before filing a lawsuit.
Both the NYPD Internal Affairs Bureau and the Brooklyn district attorney are reportedly investigating Cardenas’ allegations. After she filed her complaints, the NYPD put John on modified duty, or “stripped him of his guns.” John filed a notice of intent to sue the city for $35 million, claiming that he is nearing retirement, and that modified duty caused him to lose opportunities for a job in private security. The notice of intent to sue is required prior to filing a lawsuit because the NYPD is part of the New York City government. Our legal system only allows lawsuits against government entities in certain types of cases, and requires claimants to follow an administrative procedure before going to court.
John denies Cardena’s allegations, and claims that at worst he is guilty of “allowing a frat-house atmosphere” at the precinct. He further alleges that Cardenas actively participated in that atmosphere, essentially claiming that he is the victim of Cardena’s sexualized behavior. He alleges that she sent him inappropriate text messages, including one of herself in a revealing Catwoman costume, and that they engaged in intimate or sexual contact at the precinct station on multiple occasions.
At least four other officers have come forward, however, to back up Cardenas’ claims, stating that John often behaved aggressively at the precinct. One officer accused John of regularly hitting him in the chest “without provocation” and grabbing his groin and buttocks. All four officers have filed separate complaints against John with the EEOC.
The sexual harassment lawyers at Phillips & Associates advocate for workers in New York City and surrounding areas who have been the victims of sexual harassment and other unlawful employment practices. We represent clients in employment law disputes at the municipal, state, and federal levels. To schedule a free and confidential consultation to see how we can help you, please contact us today online or at (212) 248-7431.
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Photo credit: By Noremacmada at en.wikipedia [Public domain], from Wikimedia Commons.