CMC guard sues, claims lost job due to pregnancy

February 16, 2017

California Men’s Colony

A California Men’s Colony correctional officer alleges the state Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation (CDCR) forced her out of her job and made her take unpaid leave during her pregnancy. [Tribune]

Last November, the California Department of Fair Employment and Housing filed a lawsuit on behalf of Van Fleet alleging CDCR discriminated against her because of her pregnancy. On Feb. 1, San Luis Obispo Judge Charles Crandall granted a motion by Van Fleet to intervene in the DFEH lawsuit.

Van Fleet is a five-year CDCR veteran who became pregnant in early 2016, according to the lawsuit. The CMC guard gave her supervisors a letter from her doctor saying she should be transferred to a job where she could sit and have access to a restroom.

But, the prison system refused to grant her the transfer and instead suggested she temporarily resign as a peace officer and take a civil service position, the lawsuit states. Officials told Van Fleet she could remain a peace officer if she withdrew her request for accommodation and assumed all liability for any injury she might suffer on the job, according to the suit.

The demotion would have disrupted her medical coverage, the lawsuit states. Van Fleet opted to go on unpaid leave.

Van Fleet is seeking unspecified damages for loss of income, emotional distress and legal fees. She is also seeking a judge to order CDCR to stop discriminating based on disability, sex and gender. Likewise, Van Fleet is seeking that the agency adopt written policies prohibiting discrimination and require training for employees on the new rules.

CDCR has filed a response to the lawsuit stating Van Fleet could not perform the essential functions of her job during her pregnancy, and she did not exhaust her remedial options.

A case management conference is due to take place in San Luis Obispo Superior Court on March 9.

Inline Feedbacks
View all comments

I think this case illustrates the difference between women in the workforce who have to work to support themselves or their families, and women who are not the breadwinners and work for the extra money. This could also apply to men, but usually they fall in the category of needing their job.

Women who have to work plan in advance for a pregnancy, save up their vacation and sick leave, find out beforehand what the options are for accommodation, and cooperate with their employer to save their job.

This woman was able to just take leave without pay, indicating to me that she has other support, did no planning as a responsible employee and has probably sued or filed grievances before. Why didn’t she take part of her time off using her vacation and sick leave?

Temporary light duty jobs need to be available to both men and women for injuries or unforeseen medical emergencies. Pregnancy is a choice, and since light duty jobs are few, should not have a priority over men/women with temporary medical problems.

Going outside the institution and outside the powerful union, indicates to me that she doesn’t need/want her job at CMC, she just wants the money.

There seems to be a re-occurring problem with women in this industry. Years ago there was a group of women at that same institution that prevailed in another facet of sexual consequences, prevailed and cost the taxpayers a ransom. Why can’t we just require that men police men and women police women in this taxpayer funded incarceration industry?

Anybody out there in comment land that thinks a pregnant woman should be guarding prisoners at CMC? I would be interested in a vote on this one!

Vote up for pregnant women guarding prisoners. Vote down for pregnant women not guarding prisoners.

Why not? As long as she is able to fulfill her duties per her job description…absolutely, she should be guarding inmates.

For those naysayers, perhaps she should don a “Baby on Board” sign.

Its simple. Don’t have a kid if you can’t afford/handle it. Be responsible.

Suing over something like this is ridiculous. Working in prison while pregnant? Are you crazy?!

All this does is take away more tax payer money and state resources. Why should our tax dollars go to someone just because they got knocked up?

Smart enough to try and sue CDCR, yet dumb enough to think a prison would be a good place for your maternity time.