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Black cop sues NYS financial agency over ‘toxic’ job

A veteran black fraud investigator is suing the New York State Department of Financial Services alleging she was treated unfairly compared to white male colleagues and called a “slut” for just doing her job.

Deidre Manns said she endured a toxic work environment at DFS, according to the discrimination complaint filed in Manhattan federal court, which lists former Superintendent Linda Lacewell, a longtime Cuomo assistant known as his “secretary of defense,” as one of the defendants and currently named Commissioner Adrienne Harris as a defendant.

A dispute centered on another investigator who insisted on writing the reports for Mann’s own undercover work, according to the lawsuit filed Thursday.

Manns, who worked as an undercover cop for the city’s human resources department for 20 years before getting a job with DFS in 2016, also recounted a dispute between two colleagues that she said could have jeopardized an undercover case, they said in the file.

DFS suspended Manns without pay and tried to fire them, accusing them of conducting unauthorized criminal background research and conducting personal business during company hours. She denied the charges and the matter remains in arbitration.

Joseph Edwards, Mann’s former direct boss at the DFS fraud office, defended her record, saying she was the victim of a “toxic work environment”.

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Manns worked for the New York State Department of Financial Services, where she reportedly experienced a toxic work environment.
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“Deirdre was an excellent worker. Your work was top notch, impeccable,” Edwards told The Post on Friday.

He said others in the office were “trying to find a way to discredit or undermine their work.”

Edwards was so impressed with Manns — who received a letter of recommendation in 2015 for her role in exposing the massive Medicaid fraud for HRA — that he pushed for her to succeed him when he retired in 2019.

DFS declined and instead went after it, alleged Edwards, who said it served as a “buffer” to settle disputes.

He said there were tensions between some DFS investigators and supervisors who previously worked in law enforcement like the NYPD.

Linda Lacewell, right, chief of staff to New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, exits a Manhattan federal courthouse Wednesday, January 24, 2018 in New York.
Former Superintendent Linda Lacewell was named as a defendant in the lawsuit.
AP/Mary Altaffer

“People with a law enforcement background were treated better. They felt they had to find a way to discredit or undermine their work,” said Edwards, who previously worked for the NYPD himself.

“She’s a black woman who knows what she’s doing. Some people didn’t like that fact. What happened to her is very unfair. It’s just not right.”

In the court filings, Manns claims she was called “stupid” and a “bitch.” She claims to have suffered retaliation and discrimination based on “race, gender, gender and national origin” at DFS. Her lawsuit seeks unspecified and punitive damages.

Two other DFS employees listed as accused, Frank Orlando and Joseph Medina, declined to comment and referred The Post to DFS.

An agency spokesman replied: “DFS does not comment on personnel matters.”

Lacewell had no immediate comment.

https://nypost.com/2022/03/27/black-investigator-sues-nys-finance-agency-over-toxic-job/ Black cop sues NYS financial agency over ‘toxic’ job

JACLYN DIAZ

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