Who is John Santucci? NYPD doc bullied and harassed cancer-stricken ex-cop forcing her to quit job
QUEENS, NEW YORK: An NYPD officer alleged that she was bullied and harassed by a doctor, eventually forcing her to resign from the force. Destiny McCann, 39, became an officer in 2009 and received her first breast cancer diagnosis in 2018, suffered a stroke in 2019 and received a second breast cancer diagnosis in 2021, she alleged in her lawsuit filed Tuesday, January 10, in Brooklyn Supreme Court. The lawsuit alleges that the problem began when a new NYPD deputy chief surgeon, John Santucci, began overseeing her disability case in 2020.
“He really bullied me off,” McCann told New York Post. “I worked all of these years and for him to push me off … I get basically pennies.” The officer who is also a mother of a 15-year-old son had “trouble walking” and had “become disabled." She for no reason heard Santucci yell at her, “I don’t care what other doctors said. I am in charge here and you are going back to work. Resign if you don’t want to be tortured.”
The suit claims that Santucci, 62, who is affiliated with NYU Langone, allegedly subjected McCann to monthly harassment and threatened to suspend her if she took any more sick days. He also tried to force her back to work before she was recovered from radiation treatment. “I feel like it was unfair,” McCann said. “I didn’t do anything wrong. I just got sick.” “You are threatening to suspend me and fire me because I’m sick with cancer?” McCann said.
McCann was apparently “terrified” of Santucci, yet before she quit in January 2022, she was forced to continue to see him for over two years despite asking more than once that a different doctor be assigned to her case. Santucci allegedly told McCann over the time period, "You never had a stroke, nothing is wrong with you,” and “my secretary has the same condition as you and she is at work.”
According to court papers, McCann filed a complaint with the Office of Equal Employment Opportunity on March 5, 2021. The case “was closed without investigation” 11 days later. McCann began radiation therapy the next month which ended in June 2021 when Santucci tried to “force” her back to work though she was still recovering from the radiation and had third-degree burns he “ignored,” the suit alleges. That July, one sergeant “saw [her] radiation burns and stated how wrong it was for [her] to be at work,” the filing alleges.
Santucci designated McCann as “Chronic B” sick in July 2021, meaning she’d have to let NYPD know every time she wanted to leave her house, leading to her “house arrest” until she retired in January 2022, the suit claims. “I didn’t want to leave but I couldn’t take the stress, the yelling,” on top of her illnesses, McCann said.
According to McCann and her suit, she was twice denied applications for disability retirement which would have paid out 75% of her salary. Instead had to take early retirement with just half of her salary. McCann “was forced off the job as a result of the defendant's failures to accommodate [her] and harassment,” the lawsuit charges.
The NYPD “never engaged in a dialogue as to how best accommodate her,” the filing claims even though she wanted to continue working for the rest of her career on modified duty or desk jobs until she was 63 and could earn full retirement. There were also other positions on the force she could have been assigned including her last assignment as an administrative position in a courthouse.
“If I would have continued to work longer, I would have gotten more of my salary. I need that money because I have my condition and I have to take care of my family,” said McCann. Instead, the court papers say that McCann will miss out on nearly $12,000 of retirement pay per year. McCann’s cancer is currently in remission, and she no longer works. She has serious health problems and also suffers from side effects from her medications.
“I have been on medicine for nine years to make sure the cancer doesn’t come back,” McCann said of hormone suppressant medications. “It makes me tired and makes my body hurt.”
“The NYPD would rather harass an employee who has cancer than follow the law and medically accommodate them", McCann’s lawyer, John Scola, told the outlet. “The callous nature of this repeated abuse and the palpable harm that it has caused Officer McCann and other officers in similar situations cannot be overstated.”
She is suing both the city and Santucci for claims of disability discrimination and retaliation and is seeking unspecified damages. We’ll review the case when we are served and respond in the litigation", said a spokesperson with the city Law Department.