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Cop Has Baby, Returns To Work And Puts Life On The Line - Here's How Her Bosses Thanked Her

Often, having a baby makes people who were adventurous before becoming parents err on the side of caution for the sake of their child. One police officer refused to let that happen to her, as she also had an obligation to her community. Her department certainly didn't appreciate that sacrifice.

An Alabama policewoman was forced to resign after having a baby. The department refused to make accommodations for her to continue breastfeeding after she returned to her job. The former officer sued the department, and won.

Stephanie Hicks started working for the Tuscaloosa Police Department back in 2007, and by 2012 she had a very fulfilling career. She's been given a spot in the narcotics division and she often went undercover. It was dangerous work, but Hicks loved it and found it extremely rewarding.

In 2012, the mother-to-be went on maternity leave. In her last performance review, her supervisor seemed very pleased with her, and wrote that Hicks 'exceeded expectations'. Everything seemed fine.

Unfortunately, Hicks had a difficult delivery. Her son's collarbone broke during the delivery, and the infant required a lot of care. Between the pain from the broken bone and colic, he was constantly crying. Hicks was determined to breastfeed him on demand around the clock to see him through.

Hicks returned to the job as scheduled, and had planned to continue breastfeeding. Laws require employers to make reasonable accommodations for nursing mothers on the job, and Hicks brought her breast pump to work with her, planning to express milk on her breaks.

When the new mother returned to work, she said her supervisor started treating her differently. She had been warned by a colleague that her supervisors were unhappy with her maternity leave, but she couldn't believe it when he refused to accommodate her on her breaks so that she could pump milk.

“I was blindsided,” said Hicks.

One point of contention was that Hicks had to wear a bulletproof vest. Hick's vest was tight around the bustline due to her breastfeeding. Her doctor and lactation consultant warned her that this would inhibit her milk production and could even lead to infection, so she reported this to the supervisor and asked for desk duty.

The supervisors refused to put Hicks on desk duty and recommended she go out into the field without a vest, or with a roomier vest, which would be less safe for her to wear. Hicks felt that doing so would put her life at risk and refused.

Her supervisors gave her an ultimatum: give up breastfeeding, or go without a vest. “It was like being asked to jump out of a plane without a parachute,” Hicks said. “It was a slap in the face... I couldn’t accept being forced to choose.”

For five years, Hicks has been battling it out in court with her department. With the ACLU on her side, the young mother finally won her case. An appeals court decided that the police department was in violation of the federal Pregnancy Discrimination Act, and discriminated against the young mother.

Hicks will receive $161,319.92, plus attorneys' fees and costs, from the city of Tuscaloosa.

“My family has made great sacrifices for this fight. We have lost friends and colleagues, suffered great professional harm, and been subject to ridicule, mockery, and retaliation,” Hicks wrote in a Facebook blog update on Thursday after getting the news. “But I wouldn’t have done anything differently.”

“You shouldn’t have to choose between working and breastfeeding,” said Hicks to the HuffPost in an interview. “Now women don’t have to.”

Source: HuffPost
Photo: Stephanie Hicks

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