Cromwell officer grateful for settlement in discrimination case

Sarah Alicea was five months pregnant when she asked to be put on light duty (WFSB)

A Cromwell police officer is taking on the town that hired her after she said she was discriminated against because she was pregnant.

Officer Sarah Alicea was five months pregnant when she asked if she could be put on light duty. She says she was told no, and then she was then put on leave but without a paycheck.

Now the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) has taken on her case.

"I knew it was a remote possibility that they wouldn't accommodate me but it's still not acceptable,” said Alicia, who gave birth to a healthy baby girl eight days ago.

She has been a Cromwell police officer for four years and said she had a pretty healthy pregnancy, but there were things she couldn’t do.

"All the doctors’ notes stated that there weren't any issues but I would be able to work light duty,” Alicea said, adding that the town manager told her that wasn’t an option.

She said she was sent home and put on leave without pay. She was able to use up all of her sick pay and vacation time, but that ran out by July.

"The real problem here is that the employer took pregnancy to mean automatic disqualification from being able to work. It forced her to go out on leave,” said Dan Barrett, an ACLU attorney.

The ACLU has filed a complaint on Officer Alicia’s behalf.

"You cannot simply sideline an employee that happens to get pregnant. You must transfer that employee to a position where she can work,” Barrett said.

Cromwell Town Manager Anthony Salvatore spoke with Eyewitness News, saying the police department doesn’t have light duty, and town attorneys will defend what they did.

“Listen, what I am going to say is that I can't get into specifics of the case or details but what I will say is that is our belief that we did not violate any federal or state laws,” Salvatore said.

As for Officer Alicea, she plans to go back to work in October.

"I hope there's policy change, at least at my level. So that other females in the department don't have to go through the same thing,” Alicea said.

The ACLU is seeking all lost wages and benefits. It has filed a complaint with two anti-discrimination agencies. If the case cannot be resolved, it will be heard in federal court.

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