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City pays $135K in damages to 2 officers who won pregnancy discrimination case

Florence, KY police officer Lyndi Trischler and child.  Credit: A Better Balance.
Florence, KY police officer Lyndi Trischler and child. Credit: A Better Balance.

She can’t imagine any life other than this one – that is a life dedicated to law enforcement. Even today, that’s what Kentucky police officer Lyndi Trischler says about her career choice, despite having to endure a pregnancy discrimination case against the very city that employs her.

Back in 2014, when she became pregnant again, Trischler found out the city would no longer give officers the option of “light duty” during pregnancy. She could take time off or keep patrolling the streets.

She continued with her regular shifts, patrolling the roads of Florence, Kentucky until she was about five and a half months pregnant. She did so, because she couldn’t afford to lose her health insurance. Luckily, she was able to get by, thanks to supportive co-workers who donated their unused vacation time and an agreement by the city to let her health plan continue, if she paid the premiums.

Trischler and fellow Officer Samantha Riley argued that Florence’s new policy violated the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. The EEOC ruled in their favor and referred the case to the Justice Department.

“No woman should ever have to choose between having a family and earning a salary,” the head of the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division, said in a statement.

It was announced this week that the city of Florence would pay a total of $135,000 in damages and lawyers fees to the two female officers, the NY Times reported. The city also agreed to adopt a new policy allowing ‘modified duty for pregnant employees’.

This was the first time the Justice Dept. intervened in a pregnancy discrimination case since the High Court handed down a key ruling on the subject last year.

The Supreme Court ruled that if an employer refused to make accommodations for a pregnant worker, but made them for other workers who had similar limitations, then the employee could sue for pregnancy discrimination.  The Times article notes that in the Florence case, city policy “allowed light duty for workers who had sustained on-the-job injuries, but not for pregnant women.”

Officer Trischler has a three-year-old daughter. Unfortunately, she found out midway through her second pregnancy that her son would die shortly after birth, due to a “severe abnormality.”

Officer Riley, who had accumulated more paid time off, but gave up months of vacation time, now has a 2-year-old son.  She says, “I love my job. I love the people that I work with. This is the career that I chose, and this is what I want to do until I retire.”

Officer Riley has another baby on the way, another boy– due in three months. She’s been on light duty for the past six weeks, since the city has reverted to its earlier practice.


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