A New York city bus driver is suing her employer, the Metropolitan Transit Authority (MTA), for discrimination and creating a hostile environment after she ended an affair with a co-worker, who was a powerful member of their union.
Cassandra White had a consensual relationship with co-worker Frank Austin from 2009 until 2014, according to the complaint. Austin is “powerful official” with the bus drivers’ union.
After ending the affair, White claims Austin became obsessed with her and “engaged in a course of sexual harassment and abuse against her.” She claims that the MTA and union conspired to cover up Austin’s actions and interfere with her rights.
“The discriminatory acts were so frequent and as to create and maintain a pervasive hostile work environment affecting [White’s] ability to continue in her role as a bus driver,” according to the complaint.
White claims that after each instance of harassment and abuse by Austin, she documented the event and reported it to the MTA and union. But neither entity took any action to protect her from Austin.
When White filed a proceeding seeking a temporary order of protection against Austin, the union retained an attorney to represent Austin.
When White sought a reasonable accommodation to address the hostile work environment, the MTA refused to take any action.
By January 2014, White sought psychiatric treatment and was diagnosed with work related post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), depression and anxiety, according to the complaint.
After being discharged for “being absent from work, on disability, for more than two years,” White sought and was granted reinstatement, but she was assigned to the terminal where the sexual harassment had occurred and her PTSD was triggered. Later Austin was promoted and made White’s direct supervisor. As a result, White claims she suffered an anxiety attack and had to be hospitalized.
White is represented by Scott Steiner of White Plains, NY who filed the case in Bronx County Supreme Court.
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