Florence Police Officer, Asked to Patrol While Pregnant, Testifies in Favor of Pregnant Workers' Act
A state Senate committee advanced a measure dubbed the Kentucky Pregnant Workers’ Act.
The legislation, known as Senate Bill 38, would modify current statutes regarding pregnant and nursing women in the workforce to ensure fair treatment and equal opportunities on the job, said the bill’s sponsor, Alice Forgy Kerr (R-Lexington).
Lyndi Trischler, a Florence Police officer, testified before the Senate Judiciary Committee in support of the legislation.
During the later stages of her pregnancy in 2014, Trischler said she assumed that she would be temporarily transferred to a less hazardous position. She said she was surprised to learn she would be expected to continue with her regular patrol duties with a heavy gun belt and uncomfortably tight bulletproof vest when other suitable jobs were available.
Trischler said staying home without pay or health insurance was the only remaining option if she refused to the job assignment.
Her case - and a case of fellow Florence officer Samantha Riley, who experienced similar circumstances at the same time - garnered national attention and a change within the Florence Police Department. The New York Times reported in 2016:
On Wednesday, the Justice Department announced that Florence had agreed to adopt a new policy allowing modified duty for pregnant employees, and to pay a total of $135,000 in damages and lawyers’ fees to Officer Trischler, 32, and Officer Riley, 31, though the settlement requires a federal judge’s approval. It was the first pregnancy discrimination case the Justice Department had intervened in since the Supreme Court handed down an important ruling on the subject last year.
“No woman in Kentucky should have to choose between the health of her pregnancy and her job,” Kerr said.
With modified job options, frequent breaks and a private space for breastfeeding in the workplace, Kerr said the goal of SB 38 is to eliminate such a decision from ever having to be made.
SB 38 passed the committee by a 9-0 vote. The measure now goes to the Senate floor for further consideration.
-Staff report with reporting from the Legislative Research Commission
Image via Florence Police