Lawsuits by New York City Police Officers, Longshoreman Allege Sexual Harassment by Supervisors

Lower_Manhattan_1999_New_York_City.jpgTwo New York City federal lawsuits allege sexual harassment by supervisors, followed by retaliation for reporting allegedly unlawful behavior. Three female police officers are claiming that their male lieutenant engaged in a variety of harassing behaviors. Lampley, et al v. Rojas, et al, No. 1:14-cv-08832, complaint (S.D.N.Y., Nov. 6, 2014). They are alleging violations of the New York City Human Rights Law (NYCHRL) and one of the main federal civil rights statutes. In the other suit, which went to trial in late 2014, a male longshoreman is accusing a supervisor, also male, of groping him. Sabella v. American Stevedoring, Inc., et al, No. 1:06-cv-06566, am. complaint (E.D.N.Y., Mar. 27, 2007). He is asserting claims under the NYCHRL, the New York State Human Rights Law (NYSHRL), and Title VII of the federal Civil Rights Act of 1964.

The three plaintiffs in Lampley complain of a lieutenant who is “third in command” of the Bronx precinct where they work. Lampley, complaint at 1. All three allege unwanted intimate physical contact by the lieutenant, along with lewd sexual remarks and solicitations. Their complaint describes multiple incidents of alleged harassment, such as exposing himself and displaying sexually explicit videos, purportedly of himself, on his cell phone. The plaintiffs state that they rebuffed his advances and repeatedly asked him to stop the harassing behavior. He allegedly retaliated against them by verbally berating them, unreasonably changing their shifts and work hours, and in at least one alleged case, physically assaulting one of them.

The lawsuit does not assert causes of action under the main state and federal employment anti-discrimination statutes. It claims sex discrimination and sexual harassment under the NYCHRL, N.Y.C. Admin. Code § 8-101 et seq., and the federal statute that allows claims for civil rights violations by public officials, 42 U.S.C. § 1983. The lieutenant’s actions, they claim, violated their Equal Protection Rights under the Fourteenth Amendment. They also assert claims for retaliation under the NYCHRL and Section 1983, and a common-law claim for assault and battery against the lieutenant.

In Sabella, the plaintiff worked for the defendant employer as a longshoreman in Brooklyn. He alleges that a machine boss sexually harassed him by groping his buttocks and genitals. He reported this to both the union and the employer, and he claims that both organizations retaliated against him in an effort to make him withdraw his complaint, and to dissuade others from complaining. The retaliation allegedly included threats of physical harm, demotion, loss of work shifts, and arbitrary removal from the workplace. In November 2006, the employer suspended him “for no legitimate reason,” Sabella, am. complaint at 6, and he filed suit soon afterwards. The case went to trial in November 2014.

The plaintiff in Sabella is asserting causes of action for sexual harassment and retaliation under the NYCHRL, the NYSHRL, N.Y. Exec. L. § 290 et seq., and Title VII, 42 U.S.C. § 2000e et seq. He names both the employer and the union as defendants, although he does not name the supervisor as an individual defendant. He is also claiming “breach of duty of fair representation” against the union, Sabella, am. complaint at 11, in breach of their collective bargaining agreement.

At Phillips & Associates, our sexual harassment attorneys advocate for the rights of New York City employees and job seekers in claims for sexual harassment and other unlawful employment practices. To schedule a free and confidential consultation with a skilled and experienced advocate, contact us today online or at (212) 248-7431.

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Photo credit: National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons.

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