Two recent lawsuits underscore the reality that pregnancy discrimination against female police officers is an ongoing problem. One police officer filed suit, claiming her police department discriminated against her by demoting her to patrol duty immediately after she returned from maternity leave. Patrol duty made it impossible for the officer to pump breast milk for her newborn by not having access to a suitable place to pump. The officer also claimed that the tight bulletproof vest provided to her was painful and interfered with her milk production. She resigned from her position and filed suit.
A federal court awarded her $374,000 in damages, finding her town’s police department violated the Pregnancy Discrimination Act by not accommodating her need to breastfeed and by refusing to change her duties. A Court of Appeals issued a decision stating that women who are breastfeeding are protected under Title VII, which prohibits sex discrimination on the job.
Failure to Accommodate Pregnancy
A second police officer filed a lawsuit against her police department, claiming that she was forced to take unpaid leave to protect the health of her unborn child due to her pregnancy. The police department failed to provide her with appropriately fitting safety equipment. She claimed that the bulletproof vest she was provided was too tight and made it hard for her to breathe. The police officer also asserted that she was denied non-patrol duty. Ultimately, she claimed, she was forced to take unpaid leave months before her due date. The officer had served on the police force for 14 years prior to her pregnancy and stated that she was told that if she couldn’t perform her job duties, she should stay home.
An ACLU attorney stated that the police department’s actions violated federal and state law in that they refused to attempt to find an accommodation that was acceptable. The attorney added that an employer is not permitted to place a pregnant worker on leave if an accommodation is available. The police officer stated that she was the village’s first female patrol officer to become pregnant, and hopes for policy changes.
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act
The Pregnancy Discrimination Act amended Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 to prohibit sex discrimination based on pregnancy. Other state and federal laws may provide additional protections to pregnant or breastfeeding mothers at work. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act states that an employer can not single out pregnancy-related conditions to determine an employee’s ability to work. If an employer accommodates other temporarily disabled employees, they must treat an employee who is temporarily disabled due to her pregnancy, as well. Further, pregnant employees are entitled to work for as long as they can perform their job duties, with or without accommodations. Employers are prohibited from retaliating against any individual for asserting their right to be free from discrimination on the job, or for filing a discrimination charge or participating in Title VII investigations, proceedings, or litigation.
Delaware County Employment Lawyers at Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. Advocate for Victims of Pregnancy Discrimination
If you believe you have been subject to pregnancy discrimination on the job, contact Sidney L. Gold & Associates, P.C. at 215-569-1999 or contact us online. Our experienced Delaware County employment discrimination lawyers will pursue every available legal remedy on your behalf. We are centrally located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania and proudly serve clients throughout the state.