Officer Loses Claim Related To Breast Feeding

Jennifer Page was a police officer for the University of Pennsylvania. Page went on maternity leave in 2002. Upon her return in November 2002, Page submitted a memorandum requesting “out-of-service” time to express breast milk. The University granted her two such breaks during the course of each shift. Page became upset that her supervisors refused to allow her to request a courtesy transport from her foot patrol to headquarters. She protested and was assigned to a patrol closer to headquarters. She claimed that her supervisor nevertheless called for her on the radio and interrupted her in the locker room where she expressed milk.

Page had a variety of other complaints about the way she was treated. She alleged that her supervisor allowed other officers to spend more time buying coffee at a convenience store, and checked on Page’s whereabouts during lunch and personal breaks. Page alleged that her supervisor criticized the manner in which she prepared time sheets, briefly relieved her of her firearm, and assigned her insignificant tasks such as counting bicycles, arranging for other officers’ shoes to be shined, and for the captain’s car to be washed and fueled. At the time she was assigned these tasks, Page was on limited duty due to a back injury unrelated to her pregnancy.

Eventually, Page resigned and filed a lawsuit under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act. Page alleged that she was the victim of race and pregnancy discrimination, and that the University’s treatment of her constituted unlawful retaliation.

The federal Third Circuit Court of Appeals rejected Page’s lawsuit. The Court found that even assuming all of Page’s allegations were true, the University’s conduct was not at the level where a reasonable person in Page’s position would have found the conduct hostile or abusive. The Court ruled that “the University demonstrates that other officers on light duty were subjected to the same requirements and given the same apparently menial tasks. Page testified that running errands for more senior officers was a common activity. Page’s direct supervisor testified that he reprimanded other officers for calling a car for non-emergency reasons, gave other officers the same instructions for correctly filling out forms, and inquired about the whereabouts of other officers who were temporarily absent from their posts. Nothing in Page’s testimony rebuffs this evidence that similarly-situated officers were treated in a similar manner.”

Page v. Trustees of the University of Pennsylvania, 2007 WL 844280 (3rd Cir. 2007).

This article appears in the June 2007 issue