ACLU, Detroit Police Settle Pregnancy Discrimination Lawsuit

July 28, 2010

DETROIT – The American Civil Liberties Union of Michigan announced today that it has settled its lawsuit against the Detroit Police Department on behalf of pregnant officers who were automatically forced to go on unpaid leave while pregnant. The settlement was reached one day before the trial was set to begin.

“We are thrilled that Detroit police officers will no longer have to choose between their livelihood and their families,” said Jessie Rossman, ACLU of Michigan staff attorney. “Through this settlement and new policy, the Detroit Police Department has committed itself to equality in the workplace. We hope other departments take notice and follow Detroit’s lead to ensure that pregnant officers are protected against discrimination on the job.”

Under the settlement agreement reached yesterday, no employee or applicant will be discriminated against on the basis of a pregnancy and no officer will be forced to disclose or be questioned about her pregnancy until she believes she can no longer perform her job. Moreover, the DPD will assign a pregnant officer to a restricted duty job upon her request. Such a request for pregnancy leave or a desk job will not impact her benefits, seniority and promotional and training opportunities. Also, pregnant officers are entitled to sit for promotional exams while on leave. According to the settlement, the DPD is required to distribute the policy to officers within 90 days and the ACLU will monitor complaints of pregnancy discrimination to ensure compliance.

In October 2008, the ACLU of Michigan filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of six officers who were forced to go on unpaid leave as soon they became pregnant. The ACLU challenged the DPD policies that barred pregnant women from working on patrol early in their pregnancies and from working in any of the hundreds of desk jobs and other non-patrol jobs once they could no longer work on patrol. One of the plaintiffs, Officer Angelica Robinson, was already working a desk job in Crime Analysis Division when she became pregnant and was forced out of her job. Several other plaintiffs were forced to turn to government assistance such as unemployment and welfare when they temporarily lost their jobs.

“I am grateful that women officers today won’t have to choose between family and career,” said Officer Robinson. “I made the decision to start a family at the sacrifice of my financial stability and a potential transfer. I’m proud to have made a difference through this lawsuit so that no other DPD police officer will have to make this difficult choice.”

The lawsuit was filed in U.S. District Court Eastern District of Michigan on behalf of Robinson, Kelly Lucy, Julie Krupinski, Tisha Prater, Jamaica Skender and Sha-Mar Woods. Prater and Skender previously settled their claims with the DPD. In addition to the new policy, the officers received a monetary settlement and their lost banked time.

The plaintiffs are represented by Rossman, ACLU Cooperating Attorneys Deborah Gordon, Sarah Prescott and Sharon Dolente, Michigan ACLU Executive Director Kary L. Moss and Legal Director Michael J. Steinberg.

To read the order of dismissal and the new policy, click here.

To read a copy of the amended complaint, click here.

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