Pregnant cops don’t deserve special treatment just because they have a vagina

Aug 21, 2014 at 7:30 p.m. ET
Image: Hill Street Studios/Blend Images/Getty Images

Pregnant police officer Lyndi Trischler has filed a discrimination claim against the city of Florence, Kentucky, where she works. She says they are refusing to give her modified duty and she medically cannot continue to work her assignment at this point in her pregnancy. The city says they are simply following established policy which doesn't allow for temporary assignments when the member is injured off-duty (and yes, they consider a pregnancy to be an “injury”). This isn't a discrimination issue though, this is an entitlement issue. Newsflash Trischler: Your vagina doesn't make you special.

Working for a male-dominated, paramilitary organization as a woman you face challenges men don’t simply because of biology. A perfect example of this is bathroom breaks. Bathroom breaks take longer — men just unzip, women have to unsnap their gun belt every time. They take more tactical consideration — removing your gun belt and gun from your person requires a secure, single-person bathroom rather than a stall setting. And they are at times far more frequent — hello, heavy flow days?

These biological differences between male and female cops come front and center when a woman becomes pregnant. Being a cop is an inherently dangerous job, and no part of being a law enforcement officer is pregnancy-friendly. On any given day you can find yourself running, tackling, jumping fences and fighting — all while you grow a human being in your womb.

But none of this is new information. At its core, the task of officers has remained the same since inception: Protect citizens and arrest bad guys. Trischler knew going into the job the physicality involved with what she signed up to do. None of that changed just because she got pregnant. Trischler knew this issue could come up if she decided to have children. The city policy on off-duty injuries was in place when Trischler was hired, she knew it and took the job regardless. While Florence used to allow exceptions to the policy, as of April, 2013 they stopped. Well over a year before Trischler became pregnant this January.

The city isn't discriminating against her as a woman, they are simply doing what is in the best interest of their business. If a male officer broke his leg playing with his kids the city isn't obligated to find him work until he’s healed. As long as the “no alternate assignments for off-duty injury” policy is being applied uniformly for both men and woman, Trischler really has no case.

Every employer has benefits and drawbacks, and law enforcement is no different. When as a woman you make the decision to pursue a career as a cop you know the challenges you may face. If child rearing is in your plans for the future you should try to work for an agency with an established policy that suits your potential needs. To cry discrimination after the fact perpetuates the stereotype of women in law enforcement acting entitled.

I know full-well the stresses of being a pregnant cop because I was one. But prior to both getting hired and getting pregnant I researched the benefits afforded me to ensure they met my personal needs. Trischler should have done this too, instead of giving lady cops a bad rap by acting like she deserves better than the men.

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Maternity leave vs. FMLA leave
Benefits of longer maternity leaves