Cop Fired For Dating Man With Criminal Record Three Years Ago
A former NYPD officer is suing the department for $5 million after she was fired for a Throwback Thursday photo that was used to suggest she was dating a criminal, according to a discrimination lawsuit. (On "Throwback Thursdays," people post old photos of themselves to their social media accounts.)
Erica Rivera, 27, was fired from the NYPD in August after the Internal Affairs Bureau determined she had dated Danny Perez, a man with a criminal history, even though the relationship ended well before Rivera became a cop. Rivera claims in her lawsuit that she was asked inappropriate questions about her sexual history during IAB's investigation into her dating history with Perez.
Rivera's issues began when she was assigned to the 52nd Precinct in the Bronx. Danny Perez's girlfriend came to the station to complain about an Instagram photo of Rivera and Perez which was taken before Rivera became a cop. The inspector at the station called Rivera in to ask about the photo, told her Perez had an arrest record, and asked if she was having sex with him, according to the complaint.
Rivera told the inspector she hadn't had any contact with Danny Perez in three years and added that he had no right to ask questions about her sexual history. When Rivera's union rep arrived during questioning, the inspector asked about her sexual history again. According to the lawsuit, the inspector threated to call Danny Perez. The PBA rep told Rivera not to answer the inspector's questions, but she was reported to internal affairs anyway.
In November 2012, Rivera was transferred to the 50th Precinct, and it appeared the issue was behind her. However, she was accused of associating with criminals in March and July 2013 by detectives from the Blooming Grove Police Department. According to the New York Daily News, the "criminal" in question, George Mann, had been arrested for not paying child support, which she was unaware of. Rivera admited to dating Mann on and off for three months. NYPD officials asked her if she had a sexual relationship with Mann, a question Rivera's lawyer, Eric Sanders, said should never have been asked.
But Rivera's issues with the NYPD didn't end there. She also claims a sergeant expressed unwanted sexual interest in her and made several inappropriate sexual comments to her. In another incident, Rivera says the same supervisor kissed her on the cheek while they were in an elevator at their precinct. She says she did not report the sergeant.
"I didn't want to tell anybody because this job is based on who you know," Rivera told AlterNet. "You mess with the wrong person...."
She was eventually fired from the police force on August 13 of this year. Rivera has since moved to Florida, but claims she can't find police work because of her dismissal.
"They pretty much blacklisted me with everything that they wrote, so I can't do any job in policing," she said. "They completely ruined my entire career when it comes to law enforcement. I did four years in college. They didn't even give me the option to resign."
According to a 2003 study, more than 38 percent of women in federal law enforcement reported that they were discriminated against because of their gender; 51 percent of respondents felt they were discriminated against based on gender but did not file complaints.
There are some recent prominent cases in the New York area. In 2013, Officer Anais Perez-Villegas sued the department after accusing a male sergeant of making lewd sexual comments and sending sexual text messages. This month, three female cops filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against a Bronx sergeant. In New Jersey, a female officer from Piscataway filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court of New Jersey, claiming the department did little to protect her from male officers who pressured her for sex.