A Nassau County deputy sheriff has filed a lawsuit against the county, Sheriff Michael Sposato and some of her co-workers, claiming they created or tolerated a hostile work environment where she endured vulgar language and sex- and age-based taunts throughout her four-year tenure.
Alicia Boudouris, 49, who has worked for the sheriff's department since June 2010, claims co-workers regularly made pejorative and explicit remarks about her body and other women's bodies, while working in the department's Family Court unit in Westbury.
She filed a lawsuit Friday in U.S. District Court in Brooklyn, claiming her employer violated her 14th Amendment right to equal protection under the law. The lawsuit does not specify an amount of money she is seeking.
Boudouris claims several male supervisors often used a variety of profane words to engage in derogatory commentary on women, from county workers to celebrities, and that Boudouris was punished for speaking up about what her attorney called a "frat house" atmosphere.
The lawsuit complements a charge of discrimination that Boudouris filed with the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission.
"On a near-daily basis she was subjected to vulgarity," said Rick Ostrove of Leeds Brown Law, which represents Boudouris, at its Carle Place office. "It was constant. There were references to female body parts. There were references to what women look like, how women should act, sexual things involving women, and it was very degrading."
County officials declined to comment. "We do not comment when there is an active EEO investigation," said county attorney Carnell Foskey. "We take any allegations of this nature seriously and are fully investigating this matter."
Boudouris also declined to comment Monday, saying only that she preferred not to have to file a lawsuit.
Ostrove said Boudouris spoke up about the harassment many times since she joined the Family Court unit in January 2011 but her complaints were all but unanswered. He said sheriff's department officials had not finished looking into her claims after five months, though the agency's policy suggests it should take 60 days.
Ostrove said that in April 2013 Boudouris was transferred from the Family Court unit, where she could make overtime pay, after she filed an internal complaint. Ostrove called the transfer retaliation and a further legal violation.