A federal court recently ruled that the Suffolk County, New York Police Department had discriminated against pregnant women on the force by barring them from positions that allowed them to work while pregnant. Cassandra Stubbs, an attorney with the New York Civil Liberties Union (NYCLU), represented the six plaintiffs. Said Stubbs, “The Suffolk County Police Department denie[d] desk duty positions to pregnant police officer just because they are pregnant, while it offers those same positions to chosen male police officers.” Furthermore, the plaintiffs claimed the Suffolk County Police Department also refused to provide them with adequately sized patrolling equipment, such as bulletproof vests and gun belts.
According to a press release from the NYCLU, all of the plaintiffs were forcibly absent for at least two months before giving birth, at times being forced to go on unpaid leave after they had exhausted their allowance of sick days. One of the plaintiffs, Sandra Lochren, said she “felt betrayed by the agency,” after learning that she would be unable to continue working throughout her pregnancy.
Due to this ruling, Suffolk County officials must change police department regulations in order to provide equal employment opportunities for all members of the force. Namita Luthra, an attorney with the ACLU Women’s Rights Project, commented on the significance of the ruling, stating that, “If we don’t […] stop forcing women to choose between their careers and their families, we’re keeping women from achieving full equality.”