FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
New York Civil Rights Lawyer Eric Sanders, Esq., of The Sanders Firm, P.C., announces the filing of a federal lawsuit by NYPD Police Officer JoAnn C. Rivera claiming that members of the NYPD including the Pregnancy Medical District disregards the legal rights of pregnant mothers
NEW YORK, N.Y., September 28, 2022 – Eric Sanders, Esq., of The Sanders Firm, P.C., a leader in representing civil rights victims in New York City, today announced that Joann C. Rivera, a Training Officer assigned to the 32nd Precinct, has filed a 13-count federal civil rights lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York against the City of New York and eight members of the NYPD.
The federal complaint alleges that in early October 2020 Rivera suspected she was pregnant and shared the news with coworkers, but claims that she did not immediately inform her supervisors. Rivera alleges that she decided not to disclose initially because of her prior experience within the 32nd Precinct, which had a history of mistreating pregnant female officers over the years.
In late October 2020, Rivera alleges her immediate supervisor, Emma Rodriguez, intentionally reassigned her to an unfavorable tour in response to learning of her undisclosed pregnancy. Rivera claims this was the first of numerous actions and reassignments that were discriminatory in nature and jeopardized her health and the viability of her fetus.
In November 2020, Rivera claims she informed supervisors that she was pregnant and had contracted Covid-19. Very ill at that time, she went to the emergency room where Rivera was diagnosed with Hyperemesis gravidarum, a condition characterized by severe nausea, vomiting, weight loss, and electrolyte disturbance. Rivera was prescribed multiple medications and informed that if her condition worsened, it would require a stay in the hospital to receive fluid and nutrition through an intravenous line (IV).
Rivera claims she was forced to use her regular sick time at that point for legitimate absences, despite being eligible for Covid-19 sick time and pregnancy leave, which was inconsistent with department policy. Rivera claims she reported her diagnosis and condition to Gaetano Bello, a medical doctor with the Pregnancy Medical District. Rivera alleges that instead of affording her an opportunity to manage the severity of Hyperemesis gravidarum, Bello was dismissive of the condition and informed her that he would be returning her to work.
Thereafter, Rivera alleges she was ordered to drive approximately 80 miles from Orange County to Queens County (during the midst of Covid lockdowns) to meet with Bello versus being allowed to conduct the meeting virtually. The meeting lasted a couple minutes according to Rivera, during which time she provided her medical records to Bello. After a quick review, he disregarded her OB/GYN’s medical opinion and ordered her to return to work.
Shortly after that meeting, Rivera was transferred. This reassignment allegedly required a two-hour commute, causing a severe hardship given Rivera’s diagnosed condition – it interfered with her ability to visit with her OB/GYN in case of a need for further medical treatment.
In late December, Bello threatened to refer Rivera’s case to Absence Control for investigation, essentially accusing her of abusing the pregnancy leave policy. In February 2021 Rivera allegedly received a substandard performance evaluation of 67 out of 100 (subsequently changed to 74), which failed to mention her pregnancy and Hyperemesis gravidarum condition. The 2020 performance evaluation score differed considerably from her prior evaluations of 94 out of 100 in 2018 and 91 out of 100 in 2019.
From the point of the first discriminatory actions through July 1, 2021, when she officially started child care leave, Rivera allegedly submitted numerous requests for reasonable accommodations due to her medical condition that were consistent with departmental policy, but was repeatedly denied. Rivera allegedly filed complaints with the NYPD Office of Equity and Inclusion, as well as charges of discrimination with the United States Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) several times, including December 2021, but has yet to receive any acknowledgment.
“Over the years, many female officers complained about the Pregnancy Medical District. Unfortunately, as usual, it takes civil litigation to force the Department towards organizational change,” said Sanders. “With this litigation, we hope to accomplish organizational and structural changes that better serves its female employees.”
This federal civil rights lawsuit was filed on September 23, 2022, in United States District Court for the Eastern District of New York: Rivera v. City of New York, et al. Docket No.: 1:22-cv-05699.
About The Sanders Firm, P.C.
The Sanders Firm, P.C. offers those in the New York City area legal services related and connected to civil rights, civil service rights, criminal law and discrimination. We firmly believe in everyone’s individual rights that are described and guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States of America. We understand that our freedoms and liberties are sacrosanct and that they have been won in many and various hard-fought battles. We are committed in every way to protecting your civil rights.
Eric Sanders, Esq.
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