DETROIT (WXYZ) — Should a sheriff’s sergeant with a heartbreakingly high-risk pregnancy be given workplace accommodations for the safety of the baby? One woman says she was told no, now she has filed the latest lawsuit against the office of Wayne County Sheriff Benny Napoleon.
“My son has Trisomy 18,” said Sgt. Tanicka Jones, of the Wayne County Sheriff’s Office. “It is very hard to talk about. The doctors don’t think he will make it.”
She wants to give him the best chance possible, so she asked if she could be put on light-duty at the Wayne County Jail during her pregnancy to avoid trauma to her abdomen from working with violent jail inmates. She says her doctor recommended it and provided a letter.
Jones has worked for the sheriff's office for almost 19 years, and says there are positions at the jail where she could control who is entering and leaving secure areas without direct contact with inmates, or instead do administrative work.
“I went all the way up to the sheriff and back down,” Jones said.
She was told in writing, “We do not provide workplace accommodations to pregnant officers.”
“I can’t believe anyone was that dumb to put that in writing,” said Scott Batey, an employment attorney. “You would think the sheriff and the under-sheriff and the rest of the staff would be role models for the law, but here they have blatantly violated it."
Jones says what she's dealing with is a lack of compassion.
“It is just that no one has the compassion for me, to help me just a little bit,” she said.
After months of trying to resolve the matter for herself, Jones hired Batey. He made a call and suddenly she was put on light-duty. She has filed a lawsuit to ensure the sheriff’s policy, as written and provided to her, is changed for other women.
“Ms. Jones had to wait five months before they did anything,” Batey said.
Jones said that her goal is that for women who come after her, that they'll be treated fairly within the department.
So what does Sheriff Benny Napoleon have to say? Action News asked for an interview, as this is the second lawsuit his office has faced from women who feel they are being discriminated against in just a couple of weeks. Action News was told he has no comment due to the pending litigation.