The union representing D.C. police officers filed suit yesterday in an attempt to block a police department policy on limited duty that the union says unfairly affects pregnant, ill and injured officers.

A Superior Court hearing to determine if the Fraternal Order of Police will be granted its request for a temporary restraining order is scheduled for today.

Under the previous limited-duty rules, pregnant officers and those who had suffered illnesses or injuries while off duty were assigned to desk jobs or administrative work. Only officers expected to recover from their medical conditions were eligible.

The department's new policy, adopted July 8, decrees that officers who had been eligible for limited duty must go on sick leave, annual leave or leave without pay.

In its lawsuit, the FOP said that the department has violated the District's Human Rights Act and the 14th Amendment, which guarantees equal protection under the law.

Gary Hankins, chairman of the FOP labor committee, said yesterday that the new policy affected at least 75 officers who were on limited duty when the change took place. He said it would affect an unknown number of officers who are pregnant or have become ill or injured since the policy change.

Hankins said he hoped a restraining order would "prevent the women who are now pregnant and hiding it, or considering abortion, from having to do either. And we want to secure a permanent limited-duty program that doesn't penalize officers, men or women, who are injured off duty."

Lt. Reginald Smith, spokesman for the police department, was not available for comment yesterday.

Hankins designated two pregnant officers last week whom colleagues could contact with questions and concerns. Those women -- Cora Lee Clark of the 3rd District and Alexandra Albright of the 2nd District -- said yesterday that about 40 officers had contacted them to express anxiety over the policy change.

"People are frustrated," said Clark, a 16-year member of the force. "They're afraid that their kids will suffer. They're concerned about what they'll do when they stop getting paid and don't have any health insurance."

Clark and Albright said that several officers have told them they are going to hide their pregnancies or injure themselves on purpose while on duty in order to be placed on limited duty.

Albright said she told the women who are hiding pregnancies "that they ought to just go ahead and go to the {D.C. police and fire department} clinic. That way, they're not breaking general order policy. And I tell them the lawyers sound pretty optimistic that we'll be able to get limited duty back."

One 32-year-old officer, who has been on the force seven years and who is four months pregnant, said she has disguised her pregnancy by wearing larger clothes. When colleagues ask if she's pregnant, the officer said, "I tell them I don't want to talk about it."

The officer, who asked not to be identified, said she is unmarried and has 9- and 10-year-old sons, and would injure herself on duty "for my family to be taken care of and fed . . . . I'll do it if that's the only way that the department will let me be paid and still work."