BRONX — An on-duty peace officer at Lincoln Medical and Mental Health Center was violently slapped by her male co-worker — but her supervisors laughed off the smackdown and joked that the two had a volatile relationship like Ike and Tina Turner, a new lawsuit charges.
Maxie James, 34, is suing the city's Health and Hospitals Corporation, accusing it of doing nothing after fellow peace officer Roosevelt Purvis allegedly struck her across the face on March 11 and then said, "I kind of enjoyed that."
Purvis slapped James after she arrived at her command office for her shift at the South Bronx hospital and started inspecting her work area, according to the lawsuit filed in Bronx Supreme Court on Nov. 9.
Purvis allegedly told James to keep her hands off anything on her work table. But James continued to examine an item that she thought was lost property — and that's when Purvis swatted her, the lawsuit says.
James said she reported the incident to her supervisor, Lt. Martiza Galarza, but the boss allegedly told her, "It's not that serious." Galarza also teased James, asking her if she needed a bodyguard to escort her around, the lawsuit says.
A day after the alleged slap, James said supervisors mocked her and Purvis for acting like stormy celebrity couples Ike and Tina Turner and Bobby Brown and Whitney Houston, the suit says. Both Tina Turner and Houston were in abusive relationships that led to domestic violence.
James also filed a criminal complaint with the NYPD against Purvis, but a police captain talked to her boss and told James the incident should be handled "in-house," according to the lawsuit.
The suit accuses the city Health and Hospital Corporation of failing to investigate her claims — despite previous allegations that Purvis assaulted female co-workers on and off the job. James also claims that supervisors only look into assault allegations when a male is the victim.
Since James complained about the smack, her supervisors have denied her back-up help when doing her job and have not kept Purvis away from her, the lawsuit says.
When contacted Thursday, Purvis said, "I have no knowledge [of the alleged incident], and I don't do business over the phone."
The Health and Hospital Corporation declined to comment on the lawsuit.
James' lawyer, Steven T. Sledzik, said both his client and Purvis still work at the hospital.
"I think the complaint shows a serious failure to protect Miss James," Sledzik said. "It's a situation in which management has condoned a hostile environment."
Sledzik said James, who has served as a peace officer since 2001, lives in fear of Purvis.
"She's been suffering. She took some leave," he said. "It's created a great deal of stress in her life. She fears being around this guy."