I’m a Police Officer Serving My Community. My Pregnancy Made Me Unwelcome On the Force.

As a woman working in law enforcement, I’ve become accustomed to being in the minority — it’s something women know when choosing a career in policing. But after six years on the job, what I didn’t anticipate was the discrimination I would face for being pregnant. 

I joined the police department in my hometown of Cromwell, Connecticut, four years ago. I’ll never forget the pride I felt when my mother pinned my badge on me at my swearing in ceremony while my family looked on.

I’ve worked hard to serve the community where I grew up. During the academic year, I serve as a school resource officer in two public schools, and in the summers I return to regular patrol duty. I’m proud of the relationships I’ve built with school administrators, teachers, and students so that they see me as a trusted colleague and friend — not just “the police.”

Late last year, my husband and I were ecstatic when we learned that we were expecting our first child. Our excitement, however, soon turned to anger and frustration because of how I was treated by my department and the Town of Cromwell.

In March, when I shared my news with my chief, I hoped that I would be able to keep working at the station. There is so much administrative work that comes with policing, such as interviewing witnesses, writing reports, and issuing permits.

But the town manager refused to even discuss temporarily assigning me to non-patrol work. Instead, I was told to go home on unpaid leave and not return until after I gave birth. I left that meeting stunned. Being pregnant did not mean I was incapable of working, or that I was sick or injured. That’s why federal and state law prohibits employers from penalizing pregnant women. 

I haven’t worked since March and haven’t had any income since early July, when I exhausted all of my accrued paid sick, vacation, and personal time – time I had been saving to use after my baby was born, while I recovered from childbirth and bonded with my child.  Instead, financial worries will force me back to work as soon as I’m medically cleared. My husband is a combat-wounded veteran and fulltime student; I am the only source of income for our family right now.  It isn’t right that my male colleagues can start their families without worrying about being pushed out of work or losing their paychecks. And my fellow officers who are hurt on the job are paid their full salaries while they’re unable to work. I feel I am being treated unfairly because, as a woman, starting a family has physical consequences for me.

Sarah Alicea and her family

The thought of returning to work after months of not being paid, and without any leave time left, makes me worried and anxious during what should be the happiest time of my life. What will I do if my newborn child is ill and I am unable to take a few hours off of work to be with her?

filed a complaint of discrimination on Monday with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission and the Connecticut Commission on Human Rights and Opportunities — not out of anger or revenge, but rather to educate my community about how I and other women in law enforcement are being treated. I don’t want another woman on the Cromwell police force, or any other police force, to have to experience what I’ve gone through.

My town broke the law, and its policy needs to change so that pregnancy doesn’t cost officers their paychecks. We must be afforded the same opportunities as male officers, and female officers who don’t have kids.

My husband and I welcomed our healthy baby girl Sofia into the world on August 21. I hope that she will be proud of me for taking a stand. 

If you have experienced sex discrimination in employment, please take a few moments to tell us your story.

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Anonymous

Generally speaking, women seem to have a better temperament and more suited for police work than most men are.

If police departments were 50-75% female, there would probably be less police abuse/violence and better community policing.

Anonymous

I'm sorry this happened - there should have been language in your contract protecting officers who required light-duty reassignment? Where was your chief and fellow officers and union members during all this? I am curious if you did research prior to the pregnancy, to learn your rights both local and federally, so you could tell them what your expectations were for that time? Speak to other women in the area? I had children while employed full time as a patrol officer and did not have any sort of issues. They were super accommodating to my needs I even spent my clothing allowance on maternity wear and a shoulder holster for work. Good luck moving forward.

Anonymous

My husband is a Pennsylvania State Trooper. He just found out that when our daughter is born this fall he can use his FMLA, but can't use his sick time to receive an income. Female troopers are allowed to use their sick time under the FMLA claim.
It isn't fair. He has waited 20 years to become a father.
I'm fortunate that I can have up to 6 months off. I fortunately have 12 weeks paid through my AFLAC.

Anonymous

This is because the woman is giving birth and requires medical care and time to heal. If it were an adoption then the woman would be eligible only for FMLA and not sick time.

Anonymous

One of best female friends was a police officer. When she was pregnant, they put her on desk duty. It's not fun, but it's work and it's something she could do safely pregnant. You were definitely discriminated against. She worked at a desk until she gave birth. I'm glad you filed your suit. I hope you get what you deserve. Starting with all of that time you were forced to use before birth instead of after.

JM29360

Has anyone at ACLU been in contact with the female RN who was arrested for refusing to draw blood from an non-prisoner unconscious patient for a policeman who did not have a warrant? This happened Salt Lake Utah and was reported in the Washington Post today
/www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2017/09/01/this-is-crazy-sobs-utah-hospital-nurse-as-cop-roughs-her-up-arrests-her-for-doing-her-job/?utm_term=.031b9ca64627

Anonymous

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Monica

I am shocked and saddened to read this story ! As a Government Employee, in California I work as a Social Worker and 90% of us are women. We get all of the things you are asking for and typically take off 6 months after the baby is born. No problems.

Law Enforcement in your town needs to get with the program! We need more female Law Enforcement officers. They do a grave disservice not only to you, other female officers but also their community by implementing such ignorant and arcane Human Resource policies.

The power and prayers of feminist public servants (Women and Men) are with you in this journey!!

Cook

My mom is the one who sued the military for pregnancy rights after they fired her the day after she told them. Six year ACLU court case. Look up cook vs US Navy. She won!

Klem

Someone needs to unplug Skinhed's computer. Property destruction IS violence and the taxpayer foots the bill. Neither the ACLU nor the police officer filing a complaint supports his tactics.

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