Scituate police officer Amanda O’Shea has filed a complaint with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, alleging that she was forced to use sick time when she was unable to work the street due to a pregnancy related disability.
In the complaint, filed against the Scituate Police Department and Town Administrator Patricia Vinchesi, O’Shea requested that she receive reasonable accommodations after she developed pregnancy-related high blood pressure, causing a high-risk pregnancy.
O’Shea’s request for reasonable accommodations was denied by Vinchesi and she was forced to use her accrued sick time. Shea did work several shifts as a dispatcher, however, she was never given an administrative assignment.
“According to MCAD Media Liaison Barbara Green, the complaint must go through an investigative process. Although there is no set amount of time for the investigation, Green said the commission will evaluate all evidence in the case to determine a course of action.
“Our investigation may involve talking to witnesses, requesting documentation from either or both parties,” Green said. “At the end of that process, the commission will issue a deposition. It could be lack of probable cause that discrimination did not occur, probable cause that discrimination occurred, a lack of jurisdiction, or the parties may need to go to early mediation and settle or settle on their own.”
The general rule, as defined by the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act, requires employers to treat “women affected by pregnancy, childbirth, or related conditions” the same “as other persons not so affected but similar in their ability or inability to work. The Pregnancy Discrimination Act was enacted by Congress in 1978 and is part of Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 196. It requires that employers treat women who are pregnant the same as other applicants or employees who have similar abilities or limitations.
For an excellent article on policies regarding police officers and pregnancy, follow the link to The Police Chief magazine.