Police Officer Akema Thompson entered her Manhattan precinct station and saw a sign on the wall offering a preparatory course for officers wanting to take the sergeant’s exam.
In order to become leadership in the New York Police Department one must begin by taking this civil service test. This was the first time the test was being offered in two years.
“I wanted the opportunity,” Thompson said. She had long wanted to be a lieutenant or a captain. She paid $769 to register for the prep course.
A month after signing up for the prep course, she realized she was pregnant.
She also discovered that the sergeant’s exam would be the exact same date the baby would arrive: Oct. 19, 2013.
According to The New York Times, she felt better when she heard that there were makeup exams.
“I’ll make some phone calls and everything will be fine,” she told herself at the time.
Thompson registered for the test in June 2013. She also sent an email to Manhattan’s Department of Citywide Administrative Services, the administrators to the civil service exams, to explain her pregnancy and to ask for a makeup exam.
“I am giving birth to my first child October 19, 2013 and really still looking forward to take the test,” she wrote in the June 25, 2013 email. “What are my options?”
On June 27, 2013, city officials emailed back and said her request was “not approvable.”
Thompson wrote back asking for further explanation, as she knew of people taking makeup exams for religious observances, for instance. Perhaps she could take the exam on that makeup date.
City officials responded again on Aug. 1, 2013 and included the list of specific circumstances when individuals are allowed to take a makeup exam.
According to the New York Daily News, the list included: People called to military service, people to appear in court, those with physical disabilities that incurred while on the job and employees with relatives who passed away within a week of the scheduled exam.
Employees giving birth on or around the specific date was not one of the reasons listed.
Two months after missing the exam and giving birth, she filed suit against the city with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in March 2014.
The case was settled last month. The city is to pay her $50,000 and she is allowed to take a makeup exam in January.
The city also promised to change the policy to accommodate pregnancy-related or childbirth-related conditions.
“We are pleased that we were able to resolve this matter and that going forward all applicants will be accorded their full rights under the law,” said Cathy Hanson, a spokeswoman for the Department of Citywide Administrative Services.