Two members of a Bay Shore ambulance service say they suffered sexual harassment and discrimination that only worsened when they complained to superiors there, according to a federal lawsuit.
The two volunteers, a man and a woman, said crew as well as supervisors at Bay Shore-Brightwaters Rescue Ambulance tried to suppress the woman’s sexual harassment complaints, and that when the man defended her he was suspended and terminated, according to the lawsuit, filed Tuesday in Eastern District Court in Central Islip.
Bay Shore-Brightwaters Rescue Ambulance is a volunteer nonprofit organization that serves Bay Shore, Brightwaters and West Bay Shore in Suffolk County.
A man answering the phone at the ambulance service Wednesday said the organization would have no comment.
Raymis Ruiz, 21, a crew chief, said a crew member spread false rumors that she was having sex with other members in order to influence an in-house election in October 2016, according to the lawsuit, which was filed by Manhattan attorney Gregory Calliste Jr.
That crew member also made explicit sexual overtures to her, the lawsuit said. Other crew members joined in the harassment, and when an assistant chief learned of the complaints, he told Ruiz not to escalate her complaints to department heads, according to the suit. Eventually the assistant chief and others joined in the intimidation against Ruiz, the lawsuit said.
“To this day, [the] chiefs continue to retaliate against plaintiff Ruiz and advance the hostile work environment against her to force her to quit,” the lawsuit said.
Ruiz’s captain, John Messing Jr., 41, saw how badly she was treated and took up her cause, the lawsuit said, asking why the superiors did not take action to help Ruiz.
Officials told him to mind his own business, and when he would not back off, they told him he was suspended, and soon after he was terminated in late 2016, according to the suit.
The lawsuit portrays the ambulance service as a place where sexual harassment and bullying are commonplace, and where high-ranking superiors defend those who harass and criticize those who complain.
The plaintiffs pointed to a holiday dinner there in 2015, which featured a gingerbread house with gummy bears placed in sexual positions, the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit is asking for undetermined damages, and a jury trial.