NYPD: Giving Birth Is Not An Acceptable Excuse For Not Showing Up For Sergeant’s Exam


The New York Police Department is once again under fire and this time, instead of targeting black men, they are making it much harder for women to climb the ranks.

Officer Akema Thompson was ready to take the sergeant’s exam, which is necessary for her to advance in her career. It was being offered for the first time in two years on October 19th, 2013. Officer Thompson signed up for the test and she shelled out $769 for a prep course, but a month later, she received the news that she was pregnant and due on the same day the test was being given.

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She had heard the city would offer makeup tests, so she sent an email:

“I Akema Thompson would like to reschedule for the Nypd sgt test October 19,2013. This is my 2nd email. I am giving birth to my first child October 19, 2013 and really still looking forward to take the test. It is possible I could give birth after but also a chance I can give birth before and in the hospital during the test. What are my options? I don’t want a refund if I do give birth, I want to take the test in a different way or when possible. Please help.”

Source: NY Times

The answer was no. They do have instances where makeup exams happen, though, so it’s not an unheard of thing. In fact, in their denial, the city included a list of acceptable reasons to need a makeup exam. They include:

1. Military duty.
2. An error on the city’s part.
3. Compulsory attendance in court or something similar.
4. A physical disability incurred on the job.
5. A death in the family.

None of those applied to Thompson. She sued through Legal Momentum, a women’s advocacy group, and she won based on pregnancy discrimination. She will be paid $50,000 and she will be allowed to take the test in January.

Police departments are notoriously hostile places for women. Even today, only about 13 percent of police departments are made up of women and they are typically at the lowest ranks. We need more women, not fewer. Women are less likely to use excessive force and female victims of violent crimes might only feel comfortable talking to women.

During a time when police activities are under a microscope, perhaps it’s time for them to open their doors wide to women and to recognize the fact that sometimes, women have babies and it’s illegal to punish them for it.

Featured image via Wikimedia

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