CMC guard sues, claims lost job due to pregnancy
February 16, 2017
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.