Police Officer Wins $2M in Pregnancy Discrimination Suit

February 28, 2006 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - An Oakland, California police officer who was passed over for a promotion after she became pregnant has been awarded $2 million in damages from a federal court.

The San Francisco Chronicle reports that the jury awarded Janeith Glenn-Davis $150,000 for lost earnings and $1.85 million for emotional distress and damage to her reputation and career, after a unanimous verdict against the Oakland Police Department.

A spokeswoman for the police department said the city was surprised by the verdict and will ask US District Judge Susan Illston to overturn it, according to the Chronicle.

Glenn-Davis was a 15-year veteran and the only woman among 24 police lieutenants, which made her the highest-ranking woman on the force, when she passed an exam for captain in May 2000. According to her suit, the police chief at the time told her in October 2000 that he would promote her to the next vacant captain’s position. After she became pregnant the next spring, though, the chief told her that all promotions to captain were on hold.

The department posted a new vacancy for captain while Glenn-Davis was on maternity leave. T he promotion list that included Glenn-Davis had expired. The position was filled by a man with less experience, according to Glenn-Davis’ attorney.

Illston had previously dismissed the suit in 2003, saying statements by top police officials had confirmed that a freeze on promotions existed when Glenn-Davis was being considered for captain, but a federal appeals court reinstated the suit last year after ruling in another case that an employer accused of discrimination can not avoid trial by making oral, undocumented claims of a hiring or promotional freeze.