Frankfort Settles Suit With Officer Accusing Police Department of Pregnancy Discrimination

A Frankfort police officer says she filed a lawsuit after allegedly being discriminated against by the police department for being pregnant.

Jennifer Panattoni expressed how she will never forget the day she found out she was pregnant but the news quickly faded once she says she told her boss the news.

"I was told by my chief that they could only treat me like someone that had broken leg and if i couldn’t work…I had to stay home," Jennifer Panattoni said.

Staying home meant reduced pay, something Panattoni tried hard to avoid. She said she was trying to figure out how she would work with a vest that did not fit and a belt and pants that wouldn't exactly close.

Ultimately, she was forced to take several months off before the births of both of her children.

With the help of the ACLU of Illinois, she was able to file a lawsuit and the village agreed to pay her $190,000 in back pay. Panattoni said this will hopefully bring light to what she considers to be a widespread problem for mothers in law enforcement--a need to put policies in place to accommodate pregnant officers.

"I just don’t understand how women can be effective in law enforcement if/when time (comes) to have a family, we don’t have a career," she expressed.

The village released a statement saying it believes its policies and practices, including its treatment of officer Panattoni, fully complied with the law. The village has agreed to settle the matter to avoid a protracted and distracting dispute with a current member of the village’s police force.

Hopes the settlement will bring attention to what she believes is a widespread problem for moms in law enforcement.

Although Panatttoni has yet to go back into the workforce following the birth of her daughter, she says she looks forward to doing so once she gets the OK from her doctor.

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