A lawsuit filed this week by former security guard Amisha Forbes in the Eastern District of New York  names NUMC, its parent company, Nassau Health Care Corp., and two current or former security managers, and seeks $50 million, plus damages, costs and fees. On Thursday, Forbes, and her attorney, Frederick K. Brewington, spoke about some of the alleged harassment she experienced while on the job. Credit: Kendall Rodriguez

A pregnant Nassau University Medical Center security guard was forced to work outside in 95-degree heat without water and forbidden from seeking immediate medical attention when she began bleeding, part of a pattern of retaliation and discrimination, according to a federal civil rights lawsuit.

The suit, filed this week by former security guard Amisha Forbes in the Eastern District of New York, names NUMC, its parent company, Nassau Health Care Corp., and two current or former security managers, and seeks $50 million, plus damages, costs and fees.

Forbes, 46, who was born in India, was fired by NUMC while on maternity leave in 2012 after her security license lapsed. She was rehired after filing a complaint with the State Division of Human Rights before being terminated again in 2019 for taking too many sick days, the lawsuit alleged.

Married and a mother of two, Forbes, of Hicksville, said in an interview that the terminations were part of a deliberate effort to intimidate her by two of those named in the lawsuit, Public Safety Capt. Bruce LaPlante and John Acquavella, a department supervisor.

Megan Ryan, NUMC general counselor, declined to comment. LaPlante, who no longer works at NUMC, did not return calls for comment while attempts to reach Acquavella were unsuccessful.

Forbes was denied full-time status as a public safety officer for eight years until she filed another Human Rights complaint in 2018, she said, adding that less senior white guards were quickly promoted.

The harassment took many shapes, Forbes said. A guard taunted her with a sex toy while Forbes was assigned to posts where she could be watched on surveillance. Her captain also revoked her "last hour lunch," Forbes said, an accommodation so she could take a lunch break at the end of her shift to pick up her son.

"They were mentally harassing me so bad," Forbes said Thursday. "Every single thing I did was a problem. They treated me differently than … white security officers. They treated me like I was the leftover."

Frederick Brewington, Forbes' lawyer, said his client endured a "hostile environment" that culminated with her termination one month before the end of her 26-week probationary period.

"It was part of a planned approach to make her life, and her family's life, miserable," Brewington said. " … Once she was made full-time they then took away her ability to make a living by terminating her just before her ending her probation."

NUMC told a Human Rights investigator on Forbes' 2019 case that probationary employees are permitted to take one day off per month. Forbes took 7.25 days when she was permitted to take seven, prompting her termination, NUMC said in response to the investigation.

"Respondent denies complainant's allegations of unlawful discrimination," NUMC told investigators.

Forbes said she had the flu and took time when her son had a serious heart ailment.

The investigation found probable cause to support the allegations and said LaPlante had a "crusade" to fire Forbes, even asking other supervisors to write her up for "frivolous" violations.

"From the time she received the [full-time] position," the investigator wrote, "Captain LaPlante has tried to fire her."

Forbes, who started at NUMC in 2010, said the problems began in 2011 after she married Garfield Forbes, an NUMC security guard.

In 2011 and then five months pregnant, Forbes was forced to stand in 95-degree heat while other guards worked from an air-conditioned van, she said. According to the lawsuit, Forbes attempted to fill her water bottle but LaPlante refused, instructing her to drink water on a break. Forbes later began shaking, felt dizzy and her legs swelled, the suit said.

Weeks earlier, Forbes began to bleed while working and attempted to check into the ER, fearing for her baby. Forbes said Thursday that supervisors sent her on menial tasks and berated her for failing to notify a supervisor of her emergency.

In 2015, Acquavella wrote up Forbes for arriving seven minutes late during a snowstorm — even as guards are typically granted a seven-minute grace period before being considered late, the suit said.

Forbes said she complained to human resources, her union and then-NUMC chief executive Vic Politi but was told to "suck it up" and "let it go."

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