In a lawsuit filed on Thursday in the Southern District of New York, a lesbian custodial assistant who worked at Hostos Community College says that she experienced derogatory comments about her gender and sexual orientation by coworkers, and that supervisors failed to properly address her complaints.
Erica Rodriguez, who began working at Hostos in spring 2019, alleges in the complaint that she received offensive remarks about her appearance and gender expression and was accused of having an affair with another employee. Her coworker claimed her “‘masculine appearance’ made him uncomfortable and he did not feel comfortable working with her,” according to the lawsuit.
When Rodriguez raised concerns about how she was treated, she was “told that the comments were her fault and she should learn to work better” alongside her coworkers, according to the lawsuit. She said her supervisor also told her she was too emotional and sensitive, and that a superintendent of buildings told her the comments she received were just jokes.
In December, Rodriguez was told she would be terminated for failing to properly discipline another employee, but “not given much information regarding how she allegedly failed to discipline another employee.” The lawsuit alleges that she was actually terminated in retaliation for her numerous discrimination complaints.
According to the lawsuit, these actions violate the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the New York State Human Rights Law and the New York City Human Rights Law.