City jail workers are being forced to work 24 hours straight in a “cesspool of illness,” claims a new suit brought by all three of the city’s corrections unions.
The lawsuit filed Thursday in Queens Supreme Court claims officers have no choice but to work unsafe levels of overtime as the jail system deals with a shortage of staffing during the pandemic.
“[T]his environment of managerial minimalism that the City has mandated [correction officers] for an abusive level of mandatory overtime including requiring them to three consecutive tours of duty in excess of eight hours each,” the suit reads.
“It is simple logic to conclude that triple tours of duty increase sleep deprivation.”
Correction Officers’ Benevolent Association President Elias Husamudeen said the unions “are again challenging the City’s continuing disregard for the safety of our members.
“Our members’ health, safety, and legal rights must be protected and that’s precisely what we are asking the court to do in this action,” Husamudeen added.
The unions — COBA, Correction Captains’ Association and Assistant Deputy Wardens/Deputy Wardens’ Association — say the city is still not properly cleaning the lockups or providing hand sanitizer, despite the staffers having to work in the jails where the coronavirus has uniquely spread.
“Consistent with its ill-advised practices with respect to masks, hand sanitizer and facility cleanliness, in adopting these rules, the City put into place the absolute minimum protection,” according to the suit.
It also accuses the city of rolling out personal protective equipment to officers at a dangerously slow pace — and calls on the city to test staffers before they return to work, a policy cities such as Detriot have implemented, according to the Detroit Free Press.
This is the second lawsuit accusing city agencies of not properly equipping officers with gear to protect from the virus.
The first ended with a Queens judge ordering the city to supply officers with masks and check them before each shift for symptoms.
It also claims the city’s policy is putting people back to work too soon to combat the staff shortage.
Since the outbreak started in mid-March, 587 DOC staffers and 323 inmates have tested positive for the virus, leading to more than 10 deaths.
“This administration is deeply concerned about the health and safety of its employees and has been following CDC guidelines and addressing challenging staffing issues to keep people at DOC facilities safe,” a spokesperson for the city’s law department said.
“We take seriously the issues raised by the complaint and will review it carefully.”
Additional reporting by Priscilla DeGregory
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