A group of black female police officers filed a lawsuit against Washington, D.C., claiming they were pressured to get abortions if they wanted to keep their jobs.
Chanel Dickerson, the city’s assistant police chief, said the Metropolitan Police Department discriminated against her and nine other women because of their sex and race. She said that as an 18-year-old cadet she was told to get an abortion or be fired.
“My choice to have a baby was personal, and it should’ve been mine alone and not for an employer ultimatum,” Dickerson said Tuesday at a community meeting, according to NBC News. “I was told I had to have an abortion or be fired from the MPD cadet program.”
Another woman, Karen Arikpo, who has been a D.C. police officer for 24 years, confirmed that she faced a similar ultimatum.
“If we were pregnant we needed to get an abortion or we would be fired,” Arikpo said.
“So later that day, I went and told my class sergeant that I was pregnant,” she continued. “And she said I needed to have an abortion, and she referred me to a doctor in D.C. to get it done.”
To keep her job, Arikpo did what the sergeant said.
“It’s so unfair,” Arikpo said. “And now I’ve never been able to have a kid. All these years, I’ve tried and I’ve never been able to have a baby.”
Dickerson’s and Arikpo’s allegations have been corroborated by a male officer who was in their recruit class.
Other women involved in the lawsuit alleged that they had each complained to their superiors about unfair and sexist treatment within the department, but faced retaliation and in some cases were forced out of their jobs.