New Policies Will Benefit Many Women
New York, NY—For the second time in four months, Legal Momentum secured a positive settlement for a victim of pregnancy discrimination by a governmental entity, the Triborough Bridge and Tunnel Authority and the Metropolitan Transportation Authority (TBTA). Bridge and Tunnel Officer Lori Ann DiPalo was removed from her law enforcement position, just for being pregnant. After Legal Momentum filed suit on Officer DiPalo's behalf, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and the Department of Justice conducted investigations and found that the TBTA improperly discriminated against Officer DiPalo and other pregnant TBTA employees.
The settlement requires TBTA to make major changes to policies that affect thousands of employees to eliminate discrimination. "Pregnant employees cannot be removed from their posts without medical justification," said Penny Venetis, Legal Momentum's Executive Vice President and Legal Director. "Case by case, Legal Momentum is making sure that pregnancy discrimination is a thing of the past."
Before becoming pregnant, Ms. DiPalo was a stellar employee of the TBTA for six years. She worked as a security officer on the midnight shift and made many successful arrests, and stopped serious crimes from taking place. When she became pregnant, the TBTA, without conducting a medical examination, forbade Ms. DiPalo from engaging in law enforcement duties and reassigned her to work in a toll booth, which was a significant change in her employment status. Officer DiPalo's doctors sent letters to the TBTA stating that Officer DiPalo was fit to keep her job with no restrictions, and to continue carrying a firearm. The TBTA ignored those letters.
In addition to a monetary settlement, the settlement requires TBTA to change all of its policies, as they relate to its own personnel as well as to third-party contractors. The TBTA will no longer be permitted to randomly discriminate against women who are fully capable of performing their jobs. Its newly drafted policies must conform with federal laws that protect against employment discrimination and pregnancy discrimination. The TBTA must also conduct training sessions for its personnel and all contractors that work with the TBTA to prevent future pregnancy discrimination.
Officer DiPalo's settlement comes on the heels of Legal Momentum's successful settlement of New York City Police Officer Akema Thompson's case. Officer Thompson was not permitted to reschedule her promotion test to Sergeant, which was scheduled on the same day as the due date for her first child. Legal Momentum successfully intervened on Officer Thompson's behalf and, as a result, the New York City Department of Citywide Administrative Services changed its official policy and made pregnancy an acceptable reason to request an alternate testing date.
About Legal Momentum
Legal Momentum is a 501 (c)(3) nonprofit organization founded in 1970 to advance the rights of women by using the power of the law and creating innovative public policy in three broad areas: economic justice, freedom from gender-based violence and equality under the law. For more information visit www.legalmomentum.org.