By KENNY WALTER
OCEAN TOWNSHIP — An Ocean Township police officer, Kathleen Delanoy, has charged the township with a civil rights violation and discrimination against pregnant workers for not offering her administrative duty when she became pregnant on two separate occasions.
Donald Burke, the attorney representing Delanoy, said in October that his client agreed to an offer of judgement for the first lawsuit, which dates to Delanoy’s first pregnancy in 2011 and currently has pending litigation in Superior Court due to her second pregnancy in 2014.
According to Burke, Delanoy, who is still employed as an Ocean Township police officer, was not given the opportunity for light or modified duty at the time of both her pregnancies and forced to burn through her accumulated time off when she was unable to physically work her normal job.
The first lawsuit was filed in 2013, dating to Delanoy’s 2011 pregnancy, naming the Township of Ocean, former police Chief Antonio Amodio Jr. and 10 unnamed parties as defendants.
In October, a judgement of offer was agreed to, awarding Delanoy with $51,000.
Burke filed the second lawsuit on behalf of Delanoy in 2014, naming Township Manager Andrew Brannen, current police Chief Steven Peters, former Capt. Neil Ingento and the five members of the Township Council in 2014 alleging a civil rights violation and a violation of New Jersey’s law against discrimination and the New Jersey’s Pregnant Workers Fairness Act .
Delanoy first joined the police department in 2003 and notified superiors of her pregnancy in July of 2011.
“Before July 2011, pursuant to the existing unwritten policy, police officers who were unable to perform their full-time assignments due to a medical condition or non-work related injury were often permitted by Chief Amodio to work light/modified duty pursuant to the existing unwritten policy,” the suit states.
“Before July 2011 … police officers who were unable to perform their full-time assignments and provided light/modified duty were many times not required by Chief Amodio to use accumulated time before being placed on light/modified duty status.”
According to the suit, another officer became pregnant in 2008 and was initially denied a request for light or modified duty, but the decision was later reversed when it was brought to the attention of Brannen and the Township Council.
However, the policy was adjusted, requiring officers who became pregnant to burn through accumulated time off while they are unable to perform their regular job duties.
“Subsequent to [Delanoy] notifying defendants of her pregnancy status, defendants promulgated separate written policies, one to ‘clarify the guidelines for all sworn officers requesting light or modified duty when they cannot work in their full-time assignments due to illness or non-work related injury’ and the other to provide guidelines to ‘assist female officers in administering their leave time during pregnancy,'” the first lawsuit states.
“The change in the existing unwritten policy was in direct response to plaintiff’s pregnancy and her request for light/modified duty equal to that provided to male police officers.”
The lawsuit claims the new policy requires officers to use all accumulated days off before being placed on light or modified duty status without the chief of police having discretion to waive the requirement.
Brannen declined to comment on the ongoing litigation.