Pregnant Police Officer Fails to Prove Discrimination

January 2, 2007 ( - The 6th US Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed a lower court's decision that a police officer who was forced to take extended leave during her pregnancy rather than given a light duty assignment did not prove she was discriminated against because she was pregnant.

In its opinion, the court reiterated a district court point that the Pregnancy Discrimination Act does not require preferential treatment for pregnant employees, but mandates that employers treat them the same as non-pregnant employees who are similarly situated with respect to their ability to work.

The court pointed out that the situations of other employees brought up by Teresa Tysinger did not represent those similarly situated as the male employees she mentioned did not ask for light duty assignments nor bring a doctor’s note saying their injuries prevented them from performing their normal duties.

According to the court, despite their inability to perform all of their job duties, the male officers in question continued working as assigned – a choice Tysinger could have made as well.

Additionally, the 6 th Circuit determined Tysinger did not rebut the police department’s reason for not granting her a light duty assignment. The department had told Tysinger there were no light duty assignments in which to place her, but offered evidence to the court that it had no policy permitting light duty assignments for officers not able to perform their job functions. The police chief showed the department, in fact, had a policy prohibiting light duty assignments to officers, which the court found to be a legitimate non-discriminatory reason for denying Tysinger’s request.

Tysinger learned after eight years as a patrol officer with the City of Zanesville (Ohio) Police Department that she was pregnant. Concerned that some of her job duties could harm her baby, she requested a light duty assignment until after her pregnancy. The request was ignored.

After an altercation with a suspect, Tysinger brought the department a note from her doctor requesting light duty. The department denied the request and told Tysinger she would have to take extended leave – some without pay – until she could again perform her assigned duties.

Once she returned from leave after her baby was born, Tysinger filed a discrimination claim against the department.

The opinion in Tysinger v. Police Department of the City of Zanesville is here .