A Nassau County employee was fired from her job and dubbed the “problem child of Nassau County” by her co-workers after her discrimination claims against a fire department where she volunteered became public, according to a federal lawsuit filed Monday against County Executive Edward Mangano.
Beatrice Lozada, the former acting deputy director for the Nassau County Coordinating Agency for Spanish Americans, or CASA, claims in the suit that after news reports surfaced in 2013 that she was awarded $60,000 from the Elmont Fire Department, she received “threatening phone calls” and the Mangano administration “did everything in their collective power to freeze [her] out of the workplace.”
Lozada, 37, said in the lawsuit, filed against both Mangano and the county, that she was prevented from getting other county jobs, asked by others to “engage in unlawful and unethical behavior in an effort to catch her doing something wrong at work” and was “isolated and shunned” by her co-workers before she was ultimately fired earlier this year.
County attorney Carnell Foskey said in a statement Monday: “The County does not comment on pending litigation, however, the New York State Division of Human Rights already reviewed this matter and determined no findings of probable cause against the county.”
Lozada’s lawyer, Jonathan A. Tand, of Garden City, said his client’s free speech rights were violated because she was fired for being a whistleblower and she is seeking unspecified damages, including lost pay and attorney’s fees.
“I think what terrifies me the most is that I feel like I’m in danger,” Lozada said in an interview, adding she has fled her Elmont home with her 8-year-old son because of anonymous threatening calls she said she has received.
She contacted various authorities, including the Nassau police, Lozada said, but was told the callers couldn’t be tracked.
Lozada, a former volunteer firefighter and EMT, said in the suit that she attempted to talk to Mangano about “illegal” activity in the Elmont Fire Department around the same time that her separate action against the fire department became public, but her efforts were “met with severe resistance.”
According to the lawsuit, one county employee told her to “ ‘lay off’ Elmont as both the town and the county are parts of the same Republican machinery and that she would never rise within the ranks if she continued to make waves.”
Her $60,000 award from the state was reversed and is being appealed, her lawyer said.
The Elmont Fire District said in a statement Monday: “These are the latest in a series of sensational but unfounded allegations from a disgruntled former member. The Elmont Fire District has not received a copy of this complaint, but we expect this lawsuit will likely follow the same path as the complainant’s prior legal actions involving the Fire District.”
Mangano, a Republican, was charged last month on conspiracy and forgery charges relating to allegations that he received gifts from indicted restaurateur Harendra Singh, while Mangano’s wife, Linda, was paid $450,000 for a no-show job in exchange for Singh receiving $440,000 in county contracts.
Mangano has denied the allegations.