Female paramedic says she was harassed by FDNY coworkers.
A female FDNY paramedic, Maria Miranda, 42, has alleged her colleagues sent her with illicit pics and dating requests. When she reported them, she says they assigned her to “violent areas of the city and forced her to clean dangerously bloody ambulances.” She has filed a lawsuit in Manhattan Federal Court against both the FDNY and the city.
The lawsuit says, “A boys club within the department protected coworkers and supervisors” who allegedly took pictures of Miranda’s chest, yelled at her, sent pictures of their genitals, and “stalked her on the job and denied her pay.”
“They made me hate going to work,” Miranda recalled. “It breaks my heart because I love what I do. I don’t want it to happen to anyone else.”
Paramedic Philip Jugenheimer asked Miranda out on a date. Then, began “sending her photos of his genitals after she joined Station 4 on the Lower East Side in December 2014,” she claims in the suit, which adds, “When Jugenheimer realized he wouldn’t get what he wanted, he began leaving the ambulance filthy, lacking supplies and littered with used needles and his personal belongings. Sometimes there was even blood on the floor.”
Miranda said her supervisor, Lt. Jon Phelan, also promised her desirable schedules and overtime if she dated him. He yelled at her and stalked her when she refused. The FDNY said her complaints were “unsubstantiated despite multiple witnesses,” and “did little more than switch some of the accused’s shifts around,” the complaint says, adding the hostile work environment made her physically sick, once causing her to vomit.
When a supervisor reported Phelan’s alleged abuse of Miranda to the FDNY’s Equal Employment Opportunity office, “Phelan began a campaign of abuse, which still impacts her.”
Phelan’s friend, Lt. James Scordus, is currently facing sex abuse charges for allegedly inappropriately touching an NYPD officer in Brooklyn in October 2019. Miranda said Scordus “also denied her overtime, refused to keep her ambulance stocked with the vital narcotics, and once wrote her up for wearing a pink FDNY breast cancer awareness hat.”
His attorney, Oliver Storch, responded, Scordus has been “saving lives for 27 years and is currently a supervisor in the fight against COVID-19, and was shocked and hurt by the allegations.”
In 2020, Miranda was experiencing COVID-19 symptoms and quarantined herself, taking a mandatory leave of absence. When she returned to work, another supervisor sent her to fill in for paramedics throughout the city, “resulting in her working significantly more stabbings, shootings, and slashings,” the lawsuit states, while putting her life at risk.
“New York City prides itself on its strong anti-harassment and retaliation laws … It’s time for the City to start living up to its own standard and protect the victims of harassment and retaliation instead of covering up for the perpetrators,” said Miranda’s attorney, Denise Schulman.
Miranda is seeking unspecified damages, while staying in her position. She said, “If I leave, they win. Why should I be scared to go to work?”