A Suffolk County correction officer is suing his department, the county and co-workers, claiming fellow employees who thought he was a homosexual taunted and ridiculed him for at least a year while the sheriff’s office did nothing to stop it.
Victor Flores, who has been employed by the Suffolk County Sheriff’s Office since 1987, has filed a lawsuit in federal court in Central Islip charging discrimination based on his perceived sexual orientation. The litigation seeks unspecified damages.
“The County and Sheriff willfully and knowingly engaged in a custom and/or policy that deprived plaintiff of his constitutionally protected rights in that he was regularly treated differently than his similarly situated co-workers in the terms and conditions of his employment and was subjected to discrimination and a hostile work environment due to his perceived sexual orientation,” said the lawsuit filed by Flores’ attorney, Scott Michael Mishkin of Islandia.
Mishkin said he was unable to comment on the case when reached at his office Wednesday.
The lawsuit says Flores is a heterosexual and has been married to his wife since 1981. But he was perceived as gay by some of his co-workers who began harassing him in December 2015 using denigrating slurs and gestures simulating sexual acts, the suit says.
One co-worker who was named as a defendant in the lawsuit made a derogatory comment to Flores while passing him in the workplace on Dec. 8, 2015, the suit says.
Similar instances occurred on a near-daily basis, the lawsuit said, including in the parking lot and dining hall, despite the fact that Flores complained to his superiors and reported the harassment to the sheriff’s office’s sexual harassment unit.
“The potential physical and actual mental abuse in which the County and sheriff continue to encourage and direct the plaintiff to be subjected constitutes malice and sadistic conduct and does in fact produce substantial injury to plaintiff and does not serve any government function,” the lawsuit said.
Suffolk County Attorney Dennis Brown said he had not yet seen the lawsuit, which was filed on Friday, and he declined to comment. Chief Michael Sharkey of the Suffolk Sheriff’s Office also declined to comment when reached by phone Wednesday.