New Jersey’s Supreme Court ruled unanimously Tuesday that a police department’s policy toward female officers who sought lighter workloads while pregnant violated state law.
Office Kathleen Delanoy alleged in a lawsuit that the Ocean Township police department’s maternity policy violated New Jersey’s Pregnant Workers Fairness Act, which took effect in 2014 and strengthened protections for pregnant women in the workplace.
Delanoy said injured officers who sought lighter work assignments were treated more favorably than pregnant officers seeking the same accommodation. For example, she said, the department's chief had discretion to waive a requirement for injured officers to use up accumulated leave time while on temporary assignment, while pregnant officers weren't afforded the same option.
A trial court sided with the department, but an appeals court ruled in favor of Delanoy last year.
Since Delanoy filed her suit, the police department has changed its policy so that rules governing injured officers and pregnant officers are identical.
“New Jersey has been a leader in taking a comprehensive approach to ending pregnancy discrimination, and today’s decision affirms that employers have an affirmative obligation to accommodate pregnancy in our state’s workplaces,” said Jeanne LoCicero, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union New Jersey, which filed a brief supporting Delanoy.
A message seeking comment was left with an attorney representing the police department.