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Domestic Abuse Victim Proceeds on Gender Discrimination Against Employer

Samira Lewis worked as an administrative assistant for Turning Point Brooklyn, Inc. Shortly after she began working there, Lewis became involved with Nicholas Perez, a maintenance supervisor. A couple of months into their relationship, Lewis alleged that Perez became physically and verbally abusive towards her. The abuse allegations included grabbing her, ordering her not to wear certain clothing, and not allowing her to speak with male co-workers or clients. Not long after he slammed her into a wall, she ended the relationship. However, he wooed her back and they reconciled. He began abusing her again within a couple of months by beating her and screaming at her, and warning her that she could lose her job. At one point he beat her so badly that Lewis had difficulty walking, bending over, and sleeping. Lewis filed a police report and sought a protective order.
In January of 2017, Lewis went to Turning Point’s human resources department, letting them know that she had been in a relationship with Perez and that he was making it difficult for her to work. The bruises on her face were still visible during this conversation. That same day, Perez obtained a restraining order against Lewis. When Turning Point learned of Perez’ restraining order, they terminated Lewis. She contacted them, asserted that Perez’ restraining order was in retaliation to her restraining order and asked for her job back. Turning Point did not respond to her.
Lewis filed a lawsuit alleging a violation of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), in addition to gender bias and retaliation under Title VII. The New York federal district court expressed doubt that Lewis was disabled by her beating injuries to the extent required under the ADA but considered it too fact-specific to dismiss her case at the motion to dismiss phase. Lewis had definitely alleged enough to reflect gender bias. Turning Point purportedly kept Perez employed but terminated the female target of his abuse. Similarly, with respect to retaliation, she was fired just four days after letting HR know about Perez’ abusive behavior. Lewis’ case will proceed on these claims.