Former police officer Erica Rivera is filing a $5 million lawsuit against the NYPD on claims that she was illegally fired from the department.
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Rivera was fired from the NYPD in 2012 when department officials discovered she’d had intimate relationships with men with criminal backgrounds, the New York Daily News reports.
Rivera’s troubles started when she posted an old picture of her with a friend to Instagram. The friend pictured with her was a man named Danny Perez. Perez had no criminal history at the time the photo was taken, but later spent time in prison for a non-fatal stabbing. Nevertheless, a woman came into Rivera’s police station after the photo was posted and complained.
Following the complaint, Rivera’s superiors questioned her extensively about her relationship with Perez. They asked her if she still saw him and if she’d ever had sex with him. Rivera declined to answer their question about a possible past sexual relationship. A month later, she was asked the same question again and officially denied ever having sex with Perez.
Several months later, Rivera was again questioned for associating with a man with a criminal past. Her new interest was George Mann, a New York resident who’d been arrested in the past for failing to pay child support. Superiors asked Rivera if she’d been having sex with the man. Rivera admitted she had but said she’d been seeing him for only three months and had no clue about his criminal past.
After the second questioning, NYPD officials sent detectives to follow Rivera around during her time off. She was never seen doing anything explicitly criminal but was seen giving her cousin, a convicted felon, a ride one time. Rivera was fired soon after.
NYPD officials say Rivera was fired for violating a department policy that forbids officers from associating with criminals. Rivera and her lawyer, on the other hand, say officials are enforcing that rule much more strictly with her than they do with others. To illustrate that point, attorney Eric Sanders points to a City Hall aide, Rachel Noerdlinger, who kept her job even after officials discovered she was dating and living with a convicted murderer.
“If Erica Rivera was part of the spoils system as Rachel Noerdlinger (is), she would still be employed with the Police Department instead of thrown out like yesterday’s trash,” Sanders argues.
Sanders added that the questions Rivera was pestered with about her sex life were completely illegal.
“Their inquiries about Erica Rivera’s sex life were inappropriate and legally out of bounds,” he told the New York Daily News.
Rivera is suing the NYPD for $5 million in damages. Her case is classified as a wrongful termination lawsuit.
“They treated me like a perp and took the job I love away from me,” she said.
Source: NY Daily News (Photo Sources: WikiCommons, Larry Paci/New York Daily News)