Hannah Commission (EEOC), pregnancy is a protected

Hannah Mull 1/28/18HRM 353 Assignment 1 According the the ABC7 article, in September of 2017, Jennifer Panattoni, a Frankfort Illinois police officer, filed a lawsuit against the Frankfort Police Department, citing that the Department had discriminated against her due to her pregnancy. According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), pregnancy is a protected characteristic, which is a factor that is prohibited from consideration in any employment process, such as hiring, firing, promotions, etc. Panattoni alleges that the Department denied several requests for non patrol duties, such as crime prevention and following up with witnesses. Instead, she was forced to take unpaid leave in the months before her baby was due. The Department claims that proper accommodations were offered, however the plaintiff disagreed, stating that the safety equipment she was given was insufficient. The  patrol gear she received was ill-fitting and became unwearable when her pregnant stomach caused her bulletproof vest to come undone and made sitting in a squad car unbearable. According to Amy Meek, an ACLU attorney representing the plaintiff, “The Frankfort Police Department’s actions were clearly in violation of federal and state law. They really are supposed to work together under the law to try and find an accommodation that works. And again, an employer cannot place a pregnant worker on leave when another accommodation is available.”  Inexplicably, the Department denied any change in duties of the plaintiff, despite the EEO’s ruling under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act of 1978 that states that it “requires employers to treat pregnant employees the same as nonpregnant employees with similar abilities or inabilities,” (Mathis, Jackson & Valentine, 2014).  Perhaps unsurprisingly,  Panattoni is the first pregnant woman on the force in Frankfort. It is in my own opinion that the Frankfort Police Department were simply unaware or chose to ignore the inabilities of a pregnant woman. Her abilities were not compared to other officers with similar abilities, as was stated in the Pregnancy Discrimination Act cited above. Instead, Panattoni was compared to officers with dissimilar abilities, rendering Panattoni unable to complete her duties as assigned. However, as the textbook states, “Fears about higher insurance costs and possible birth defects caused by damage sustained during pregnancy lead some employers to reassign women from hazardous jobs to lower-paying, less hazardous jobs. Such reproductive and fetal protection policies have been ruled unlawful,” (Mathis, Jackson & Valentine, 2014). However, Panattoni requested that she be granted alternative assignments, rather than being forced to by the Department. Much as what is stated above, the EEOC’s website further details that “…The employer may have to provide light duty, alternative assignments, disability leave, or unpaid leave to pregnant employees if it does so for other temporarily disabled employees.” The crux of this lawsuit may rest in how the Department would treat another temporarily disabled employee. In my mind, the Department should not expect an employee with temporary disabilities to continue performing duties of a fully able bodied officer. Moreover, the treatment that the Plaintiff received during her pregnancy was cruel.  False accomodations were made (too small body protecting gear) and all reasonable requests were ignored. It appears at the base level that the Department was negligent in accommodating for a protected class.  At this time, no ruling has been made and no punishments have been administered to the Frankfort Police Department. Panattoni hopes that the lawsuit will bring change to the Department, hoping to spurn policy change and better treatment for pregnant officers in the future. BibliographyHsu, J. (2017, September 25). Cop suing for pregnancy discrimination: ‘I still can’t believe this goes on in 2017’. Retrieved January 29, 2018, from http://abc7chicago.com/society/cop-suing-for-pregnancy-discrimination-i-still-cant-believe-this-goes-on-in-2017/2453649/Mathis, R. L., Jackson, J. H., Valentine, S., & Meglich, P. A. (2017). Humanresource management. Boston, MA: Cengage Learning.Pregnancy Discrimination. (n.d.). Retrieved January 29, 2018, from https://www.eeoc.gov/laws/types/pregnancy.cfm.