It is usually considered discriminatory for your employer to ask about your sex life or associates outside of work. But, what if the agency you work for has a policy that prohibits you from associating with certain parties. A former New York City Police Department officer has recently brought a lawsuit that addresses this very question.
Erica Rivera, 27, of Orange County, New York, was a NYPD officer working at the 52nd Precinct in the Bronx. In 2012, when she was a new officer, a woman came into the station house and informed other officers that there was a photograph of Rivera and a gentleman named Danny Perez posted on social media. The woman was Perez’s new girlfriend. Rivera and Perez dated years before and the picture was from 2007. Unfortunately for Rivera, Perez has also been incarcerated for a stabbing since they were an item. This raised some concern among Rivera’s superiors and she was questioned about the circumstances and even about current sexual relations with Perez, which she denied. Afterward, the incident seemed to blow over.
But, in 2013, a detective from Rivera’s town informed the NYPD that she was currently involved with another individual with criminal ties, George Mann. Mann had been arrested in relation to child support payments. Rivera was again questioned about her personal relationships and even about her sex life. When she objected, her superior threatened to fire her unless she agreed to talk. She then admitted that she had been dating Mann sporadically and had a sexual relationship with him but maintained that she did not know about his criminal history.
In August, she was fired from the job after a two year investigation by the NYPD Bureau of Internal Affairs. Her termination was based on NYPD policy that officers are prohibited from being involved with criminals. If officers break any policy while in their initial probationary period, they can face termination. As such, Rivera was fired. When she applied for unemployment benefits, the NYPD disclosed the circumstances of her firing to the Department of Labor. Rivera has now brought a lawsuit against the NYPD claiming that their questioning about her sex life was illegal and asking the court for $5 million in damages.
Whether you work for a small company or large agency, New York City Thomas M. Lancia can help if you have an issue with your employer. He is experienced in all areas of employment litigation, including discrimination and wrongful termination. Contact his office today by calling (212)964-3157 for a consultation.