Pregnant Officer Told to Patrol or Go Home

Florence, Kentucky is a suburb on the southern fringes of the Cincinnati metropolitan area. Even though I’ve lived in various parts of the middle eastern Unites States, Florence is the city in which I’ve resided for most of my life. It’s comprised of mostly upper middle class Caucasians. This town rarely makes the news, good or bad. The thing it’s mostly known for is a ridiculous water tower with the words Florence Y’all emblazoned on either side of it. It’s literally a few feet from I-75 so whenever I tell people outside of the Cincinnati area where I’m from they always reference that insipid water tower and say, “Oh, Florence Y’all! I know where that is!” and I cringe a little inside.

Image of the highly-recognizable water tower i...

Image of the highly-recognizable water tower in Florence, Kentucky. Photo taken by C. Matthew Curtin of Columbus, Ohio. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

(Hideous, ain’t it?)

The Florence Police Department is making news for its treatment of a pregnant police officer. Namely, it’s refusal to make accommodations for her pregnancy.

Lyndi Trischler is a Florence police officer who, at the time of this video, was five months pregnant. She’s 7.5 months pregnant now. Her pregnancy was developing some issues. Her belt, which I can only imagine is quite heavy as it’s loaded down with equipment, was causing discomfort and pain to her rapidly expanding belly. She was developing some problems with her heart. She requested permission for light duty work, a desk job perhaps, for the rest of her pregnancy. She was denied. The FPD told her she could either patrol is she normally does or she would have to use sick hours to keep getting a paycheck.

That sounds pretty shitty, right? Unfortunately, it’s completely legal.

When I was a manager for Wal-Mart, this was a law I had to become intimately familiar with. I can no longer remember the name of the law, but it basically states that employers are only required to reasonably accommodate an employee if the employee becomes sick or injured while on the job. For example, were a computer to fall off my desk and break my foot, my employer would have to reasonably accommodate any physical limitations put in place by a medical professional. If, however, I broke my leg playing basketball and my doctor puts me on light duty, my employer is not legally required to accommodate any physical restrictions I may have. In this case, the city of Florence did not impregnate Lyndi (so far as I know), so they are not required to accommodate her physical limitations.

I understand the position of the FDP to an extent. Police departments around the nation have had their budgets cut in the years since the Great Recession. It’s hard to justify creating a superfluous desk job which takes one more police officer off the street. But let’s look at this from the other perspective. Why wasn’t Lyndi pulled off patrol the moment she found out she was pregnant? Not much happens in this city, but it is still sometimes required that a police officer has to put his/her life in danger. Lord knows I have as a manager apprehending shoplifters at Wal-Mart. You never know if the person you go out to apprehend is going to have a gun (or some other weapon) and possibly use it. Why are we putting this baby in danger? If Lyndi happened to get into an altercation with a suspect there’s a very real chance her baby could die if she’s hit in the gut hard enough.

It may not have been the most fiscally responsible thing to do, but the right thing to do should have been to put Lyndi in a position where there was no danger to her baby. Fortunately for Lyndi, many of her follow officers have donated their sick time to her so she is still getting paid even while she’s not working. In a time where all cops are being vilified for the actions of a few, it’s refreshing to read about how charitable police officers can be.

Lyndi has filed a federal discrimination lawsuit and I seriously hope she prevails. Almost every other civilized nation offers both mothers and fathers mandatory paid time off for the birth of a child. The US doesn’t. FMLA requires that employers give mothers and fathers time off, but doesn’t require that employers pay you during this time. Additionally, circumstances need to be taken into consideration when deciding whether a pregnant woman be given light duty. More specifically, the advice of her doctor should be followed without being given a choice about keeping your job.

This incident has shown a negative light on the city in which I grew up and I hope they ultimately decide to do the right thing. Since this has been going on for about 2.5 months, however,  I doubt they’re going to change their minds now. How very sad.

Audience Participation Time!

Where do you stand? Should the police department have to acquiesce to her request for light-duty work or do you think they are right in telling her to do her job or stay home?

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About Twindaddy (328 Articles)
Sometimes funny. Sometimes serious. Always genuine.

37 Comments on Pregnant Officer Told to Patrol or Go Home

  1. I can’t imagine there is a shortage of desk-work available (in fact, if she had a desk job and was able to take on the report-writing, etc. for street-based officers, I’m sure they’d be very happy to offload said work onto her), so to me it looks like there’s more to this story. Perhaps she was already on bad footing with the her superiors and they are using this as a way to force her hand? It seems like there’s more here than meets the eye.

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  2. I’m with the pregnant lady…. Seriously? Here we get 3 months of mandatory Maternity leave, which are paid by our Social Security. Men do however not get any time, except if they want to take 3 days Family responsibility leave – when their children are born.

    And it is just not humane to ask a pregnant lady to do a potentially harmful job. Where is your human heart? Seems like Corporate America has gone too far. Sorry, my humble opinion.

    I think you need a law to protect the pregnant women in your country. This would be considerd discrimination here.

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  3. That’s a tough one! Would they then be required to do that for all pregnant officers? But still, they could easily be accommodating if they really wanted to. She doesn’t need this added stress!

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  4. Here in Ontario, Canada, there is one year of maternity/paternity leavethat can be shared any way the couple desires before or after the birth. And no company or organization here would ever, ever, ever, force a pregnant woman to face danger daily or threaten to not pay her. They would be tarred, feathered, and burnt at the stake if they even thought about it. Business takes for granted a supply of labour and that labour comes only through pregnant women. As such the resource should be protected and encouraged by business, but they don’t without laws. it is nuts. Whenever a business gets inputs from the general community(shared resources), there should be an obligation for the business to pay for that supply – be it labor or natural resources (i.e. water, timber, etc). It annoys me that business takes supply for granted and refuses to pay fot it.

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  5. The world would be a very different place if men got pregnant.

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  6. Coming from a country where laws surrounding maternity and paternity leave, and accommodating the pregnant amongst us are bloody STRINGENT, in the best interests of the parent and unborn child, and really rather good, I find their attitude towards her utterly abhorrent.

    But within the law. So the law needs changing. Seems to be a day for sharing sucky laws.

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  7. Just another look at the ugly world we live in. An observation, all across the nation women are vilified for trying to protect their reproductive rights. Women are called sluts for wanting birth control covered by their paid for insurance. Access to safe and legal abortion is be stripped in state after state. But pregnant women suffer financial burdens to carry to term, whether working in the public or private sector.

    Our laws suck. As Elyse says, it would be a very different world if men bore children.

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    • It’s a ridiculous double standard. They want women to have babies, but then punish said women for doing so.

      Sigh. Somebody stop this world, I wanna get off…

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  8. I saw a thing, I don’t know how accurate it was as I never bothered to look into it further, but it showed how much time off a new parent gets around the world, and the USA was like, bottom of the list, while other countries, some that we would consider as being “less than” us get a ton of time off for being a new parent. We’re terrible here, really. As much as I love living here and love my country, I really don’t think we’re the greatest nation on the planet. We’ve got a lot of work to do.

    As far as this particular case goes, you brought up a good point. If she were to continue working on the street, and she were attacked, she could have lost the baby. That would have been an even worse lawsuit for them to deal with, AND she wouldn’t have her child anymore. They really should have thought this through. What did they want, a pregnant woman in her ninth month pulling people over and arresting them? Barely able to get in and out of her car? When was her pregnancy going to be too much for them? I hope she wins something. The negative publicity is already in her favor.

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  9. I’m on the fence on this. It’s not a large department, there are 46 people on patrol and about 15-20 on desk duty, of which most are in investigations and only 4 are office staff. (according to their site http://www.florence-ky.gov/police-department – I knew immediately it was the right one because of the water tower picture:) )
    So on one hand, I agree that she should not be working patrol duty and the department should try to accommodate her. On the other hand, they need to have that desk job available to accommodate her, or there should be someone with a desk job willing to trade places and go on patrol duty – and she should be able to do that job. Maybe she’s not trained to do investigations. and if she spends the remaining 1.5 months of her pregnancy in training to do investigations, only to returns to patrol duty after giving birth – if so, it’s more efficient to pay her to just sit at a table and do nothing. Since I don’t know much more than this, it would be interesting to see how this plays out in court, where the jury will have access to more information.
    Meanwhile, it’s ridiculous that we are even in situation where women don’t get a year or so of maternity leave, as most other civilized countries do.

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  10. I think if a male officer had experienced a hernia in his off time, the department would accomodate his request for light duty work if requested by his physician. Wouldn’t they rather have an officer on duty for however much they can help rather than off sick for any length of time?

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  11. I think that law is completely off its rocker. What would a company do for someone who does a physical job who broke a leg due to, say, slipping on some ice on the street in winter? Something which cannot be predicted and is not as easy to prevent as people think.

    I broke a bone in my foot on a night out with friends. I did a desk job, but my desk was on the first floor (2nd floor in American). There was no lift in the office, so my immediate boss moved my computer to a spare desk on the ground floor, so that they weren’t putting me or anyone else in danger by expecting me to be going up and down the stairs on crutches.

    Sometimes, benefiting the individual also benefits the company/employer.

    I think this is another bad case of “people are stupid”.

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    • Companies don’t value employees over here. It’s ridiculous. It evidently escapes the minds of corporate thinktanks that loyal employees means productive employees. Instead, they’re more concerned with doing more with less. Gotta keep those stock holders happy…

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