Kentucky City Settles DOJ Lawsuit Alleging Denial of Light-Duty Work to Pregnant Cops

Female police officers in Florence, Kentucky, won’t have to worry anymore that they will be denied light-duty jobs if they want them when they become pregnant.

That’s thanks to a settlement of a Title VII and Americans With Disabilities Act lawsuit announced today by the U.S. Department of Justice.

It’s the department’s first lawsuit challenging a discriminatory light duty policy since the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling regarding light duty policies and pregnant employees in Young v. United Parcel Service.  It is also the department’s first lawsuit challenging disability-related “no restrictions” policies in the workplace.

In its March 2015 ruling in Young, the high court held that Title VII requires that employers that accommodate workers with temporary disabilities also do so for pregnant employees unless it has a legitimate, nondiscriminatory reason for doing so other than cost or convenience.

According to the department’s complaint, Florence discriminated against two pregnant police officers by denying both officers’ requests for light duty.  The department alleges that Florence previously assigned light duty positions to employees who were temporarily unable to perform their regular job duties, regardless of why the employee needed light duty.  In April 2013, within months of a police officer’s pregnancy-related light duty request, Florence limited light duty to employees with on-the-job injuries.  Florence also required that employees with non-work-related illnesses, injuries or conditions demonstrate that they had “no restrictions” before they could return to work.

In 2014, according to the department’s complaint, Police Officers Lyndi Trischler and Samantha Riley requested light duty when they were unable to perform their duties as patrol officers due to their pregnancies.  Officer Trischler, who was diagnosed with a high-risk pregnancy and suffered complications, also requested light duty as a reasonable accommodation for her pregnancy-related disability.  Florence denied the requests and required each to take leave.  After placing Officers Trischler and Riley on leave, Florence continued to grant light duty to other employees who were similar in their ability or inability to work.

 

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