A Frankfort, IL, police officer has filed a federal lawsuit alleging the police department refused to modify her duties when she became pregnant, wouldn’t provide a protective vest that covered her growing belly and then forced her to take unpaid leave months before she gave birth.
Jennifer Panattoni, a senior patrol officer and 14-year veteran of the department, sued the village this week in U.S. District Court in Chicago. Lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union of Illinois, who are representing Panattoni, argue that the village violated the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act, which prohibits discrimination based on pregnancy.
Panattoni said she asked to be assigned to a non-patrol position, but police Chief John Burica denied the request. She continued to work patrol, wearing a too-tight vest and a 25-pound duty belt that she said pressed against her abdomen, until she was five months pregnant.
Rob Piscia, Frankfort’s administrator, told the Associated Press in an email that the village and its police department “are strongly committed to a discrimination free workplace and to providing reasonable accommodations to employees who need them to perform their jobs.” He said the village believes it complied with state and federal law and that it intends to fight the lawsuit.
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