NYS Gaming Commission Sued By Former Employee For Disability Discrimination

MARIVI WOLFE-SANTOS (“Ms. Wolfe”), has filed a lawsuit in NYS Supreme Court, New York County, (Index. No. 160963/2016), against the NYS Gaming Commission (Commission), Lisa Lee, the Commission’s Inspector General, Frank Perrone, Director for the NYC Region One, Michelle A. Castler, a Commission Human Resources employee, and NYC Region One supervisors’ Cynthia Wong, Sara Ying and Francisco Collazo (collectively, “defendants”). In her amended complaint (the “Complaint”), Ms. Wolfe alleges that she was subjected to unlawful disability discrimination by defendants and retaliatory and discriminatory discharge due to her complaints and opposition to defendants’ disability discrimination.

In her Complaint, Ms. Wolfe alleges that, in January 2016, the Commission hired Ms. Wolfe to work as a Lottery Marketing Representative for the Commission’s NYC Region One. Ms. Wolfe further alleges that, in February 2016, she suffered a bout of chemical pneumonia for which she required hospitalization and took a short leave of absence from work. In her Complaint, Ms. Wolfe further alleges that, on April 15, 2016, Ms. Wolfe suffered an on-the-job accident when she fell to the floor at one of her assigned store vendors. Ms. Wolfe alleges that her neurologist diagnosed her as having suffered a severe concussion with loss of consciousness, post-concussion syndrome, and cervicalgia. As per her Complaint, Ms. Wolfe alleges that because of her post-concussion syndrome, Ms. Wolfe took a second leave of absence from work. In her amended complaint, Ms. Wolfe alleges that Defendants were fully aware of her medical issues, her fall to the floor at the store vendor site, and her medical diagnoses. Ms. Wolfe further alleges that she provided this information to defendants for defendants to provide her with reasonable accommodations – Ms. Wolfe alleges that her physicians’ certified that she could work at 50%.

In her Complaint, Ms. Wolfe further alleges that, when she returned to work the first time from her hospitalization for chemical pneumonia, one of her supervisors who is a defendant, acted hostile towards her and engaged in mental and psychological abuse against Ms. Wolfe. Ms. Wolfe alleges that this defendant’s behavior includes but is not limited to telling Ms. Wolfe almost daily that she could be fired at any moment. Ms. Wolfe also alleges that Ying took Ms. Wolfe’s computer and changed Ms. Wolfe’s time card without her authorization, which Ms. Wolfe alleges led to Ms. Wolfe losing deadlines for benefits as a new employee. In her Complaint, Ms. Wolfe further alleges that she complained about this defendant’s harassment to Commission upper level managers informed who informed Ms. Wolfe that the supervisor wanted to fire Ms. Wolfe while she was still in the hospital. Ms. Wolfe alleges that, instead of taking corrective administrative action against defendant Sara Ying, certain defendants transferred Ms. Wolfe to the Bronx, NY area.

In her Complaint, Ms. Wolfe alleges that, after her return to work in June 2016 from her second leave of absence due to suffering the severe concussion, defendants did not grant her reasonable accommodations although her physicians certified that she could work at 50 % capacity. Ms. Wolfe alleges that, in violation of the work restrictions which defendants were to honor and of which they were fully aware, certain defendants engaged in retaliation again her for requesting reasonable accommodation.

Specifically, in her Complaint, Ms. Wolfe alleges that defendants forced her to perform work by increasing her vendor visits which was temporarily restricted by her neurologist. Ms. Wolfe further alleges that Ms. Wolfe’s immediate supervisor coerced her, while she was under extreme duress, to write an email to upper management stating that she allegedly was “OK [to perform all her job tasks].” In her Complaint, Ms. Wolfe alleges that her immediate supervisor, a defendant in this action, told her that certain defendants would not allowed to work at 50 % work capacity - when Ms. Wolfe claims that when she objected and said that it was the law, her immediate supervisor told her that “the law”, in effect, did not apply to her because she could be fired anytime and whenever they wanted.

In the Complaint, Ms. Wolfe also alleges that, as discrimination because of her disabilities and her opposition to the discrimination, defendants collaborated in making false statements, generated misleading reports and creating a poor performance evaluation. Ms. Wolfe alleges that certain defendants that, contrary to her work restrictions, defendants forced to perform tasks violating her work restrictions and which seriously exacerbated her post-concussion syndrome. In her Complaint, Ms. Wolfe further alleges that her supervisor, defendant Francisco Collazo, confessed that some of the defendants, including defendant Michelle Castler of HR, had acted together to write the poor job performance evaluation and had presented it to Collazo to use against her. Ms. Wolfe alleges that a temporary employee told her that, while Ms. Wolfe was absent from work due to the post-concussion syndrome, defendants, including Lisa Lee, the Commission’s Inspector General, discussed “terminating” Ms. Wolfe.

In her Complaint, Ms. Wolfe alleges that, due to the hostile work environment she suffered at the Commission because of her disabilities, defendants have rendered Ms. Wolfe 100% disabled and incapable of working. Ms. Wolfe further alleges that, in retaliation for her complaints about defendants’ unlawful disability discrimination, the Commission terminated her employment effective as of June 6, 2017.

In her Complaint, Ms. Wolfe is seeking monetary damages for all back and front pay owed her, full compensatory damages for severe emotional and physical illness under the NYS and NYC Human Rights Laws, and punitive damages she claims are owed her as against the individual defendants under the NYC Human Rights Laws.

Any inquiries should be directed to Jimmy M. Santos, Esq. of Cornwall, New York, at (845) 537-7820; (347) 753-3258 (cell number); fax at (845) 595-2266; and/or via email at jmssesq@gmail.com.

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