The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a former Tuscaloosa police officer’s case against the Police Department for pregnancy discrimination and retaliation. Melissa Hicks had worked for the Tuscaloosa Police Department for three years before taking FMLA leave for the birth of her child. Upon returning to work, she was written up for  infractions and denied a private place to breastfeed.

She was demoted to patrol duty, with a pay cut and longer hours, and discriminated against for requesting accommodations to allow her to continue breastfeeding. Hicks also endured hostile comments over the time it took to pump breast milk for her son.

Her doctor recommended an adjustment to her patrol vest, as it could cause breast infections and was limiting her milk supply, but these requests were denied. Hicks was told she could either go without a bulletproof vest or wear a larger vest with dangerous gaps.

Hicks faced the choice: continue to work as a police officer or being able to feed her child.  Hicks decided to resign and filed a suit against the City under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and the FMLA. In 2016, a federal court found in favor of Hicks and awarded her $374,000 in damages. The City of Tuscaloosa appealed, but the 11th Circuit Court upheld the case in favor of Hicks.

If you have gone through a similar situation, and believe your employer has retaliated against you for pregnancy or FMLA leave, please contact me for a free consultation regarding your rights under the Pregnancy Discrimination Act and the FMLA.

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