In response to complaints brought to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission by female police officers, Massachusetts Gov. Paul Cellucci ordered State Secretary of Public Safety Kathleen O’Toole to rewrite the rules regarding pregnant troopers on Wednesday.
Four veteran investigators told the EEOC that they were not allowed to work overtime, and that they were only allowed to use the phone and drive their own car to do investigations when they were pregnant. They were restricted because they couldn’t meet state police requirements that they be able to run up 10 flights of stairs, mow the stationhouse lawn, or pull a cow off a roadway. The state police physician, not the woman’s personal doctor, can recommend any pregnant policewoman be put on “modified duty.” When Lisa Butner refused, she was put on “no duty” status.
California has similar restrictions and physical requirements for pregnant officers, but the decision is made by the women and their doctors. “We never run into an issue with this because most of these gals are smart enough to get off the road when it comes time. They know their body better than anybody,” said California Highway Patrol spokesperson Kelly Young. In Washington state, pregnant troopers can choose to do desk duty or stay on patrol as long as they feel able to.
O’Toole was allowed to choose her work 10 years ago when she was pregnant and working as a Boston police detective. “I felt like a valued employee. I didn’t have to shelve my career for nine months, and I was able to work until the day before I had the baby.” Gov. Cellucci ordered a rewriting of the strict rules because they put “roadblocks in the way of working women.”