SHERIDAN, Colo. (KDVR) — One week after the Problem Solvers brought you the story of Alexandra Gonzales, a pregnant officer fired by Sheridan police, we’ve learned it’s not the first time the city refused to accommodate a pregnant woman’s request for light duty.
Sue Ratcliff, 60, contacted FOX31 furious to see history repeating itself.
“I was just in disbelief that this would happen again, let alone in the same department but in 2021,” she said.
Ratcliff was a Sheridan police officer when she told her supervisors on Dec. 24, 1991, she was pregnant and would be requesting light duty.
She said the department tried to fire her in 1992 insisting it couldn’t accommodate her request for light duty. Ratcliff said with the support of the police union and an attorney she was able to fight back and avoid termination.
Instead, she said the city put her on maternity leave, most of it without pay and no medical benefits even though she had been on the force 10 years.
“Police officers are out there dodging bullets and protecting people on a daily basis and giving their lives on a daily basis as we all know. I think they deserve to be treated better than that,” said Ratcliff.”
Ratcliff gave birth to a daughter named Alexandra in 1992, never guessing another Alexandra would face a similar fate in 2021.
“I was incredibly stunned and very mad and frustrated,” Alexandra Gonzales told the Problem Solvers last month, explaining her reaction to being fired in February by the Sheridan Police Department.
The city offered to let Gonzales separate in “good standing” but said if she refused to quit, she would be terminated.
“I’m not leaving on my own accord. This is not my choice. If they want me to leave then they’re going to have to do it,” said Gonzales.
FOX31 obtained a letter from Sheridan police to Gonzales insisting the department of 34 officers is too small to accommodate her request for light duty.
Ratcliff said it was the same thing she was told in 1992, even though the department had previously placed her on light duty for eight weeks, due to an on-the-job injury.
“I was chasing a bad guy and I hit a soft spot down by the river and tore my ankle up,” remembered Ratcliff.
Ratcliff later sued the city of Sheridan for sex discrimination and failure to follow the federal pregnancy discrimination act. She settled just days before her federal trial in 1994.
The settlement paid Ratcliff for her back-pay of nearly $25,000 and called for her to quit the department.
Now she has some advice for Gonzales.
“I would say fight the good fight. They did you wrong and don’t give up and don’t just walk away from this. You need to fight for yourself and your child and you need to make your point and you need to make your history.”