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NY caretakers say they are being punished for complaints

ALBANY, N.Y. (AP) — Some caretakers for disabled New Yorkers say they've been harassed and punished for making complaints about potentially hazardous situations at state facilities.

At least two are pursuing federal lawsuits alleging their complaints prompted supervisors to retaliate with trumped-up accusations of wrongdoing that forced them to be placed on paid leave.

One 17-year state employee says he's currently on at least his sixth such leave, totaling more than a year and a half of his career.

New York's Office for People with Developmental Disabilities, serving 130,000 disabled clients with programs and housing, declines to discuss individual personnel complaints, or the federal lawsuits filed three years ago.

A spokeswoman says OPWDD puts staff on leave during investigations of abuse allegations.

About 220 from an agency staff of about 20,000 are on leave.

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