When Officer Daryn Glenn became a canine handler for the Redondo Beach Police Department in 2021, she made history, she says, becoming the first Black woman to achieve the coveted role at the California department.
When Glenn brought the issues to her union, according to the lawsuit, its president replied, “If you want to stay in [the] canine unit, I can push you down the stairs or kick you in the stomach.”
In the lawsuit filed on Friday in California Superior Court, Glenn alleges that her treatment at the department in Los Angeles County amounted to discrimination, harassment and retaliation under California labor laws. She is suing the city of Redondo Beach and its police department for unspecified damages related to losses in earnings, professional opportunities and her overall well-being.
Joe Hoffman, the Redondo Beach police chief, told The Washington Post in an email that the department has launched an internal investigation into Glenn’s allegations with the assistance of its legal counsel.
“The Redondo Beach Police Department takes seriously the allegations contained in the lawsuit,” Hoffman said.
He added that it is the department’s policy to move pregnant officers to “temporary modified duty” to “avoid potentially hazardous environments or activities” and said the policy was formulated with an outside consultant. The issue has been the subject of negotiations with the police union, Hoffman said. He told The Post that Glenn’s position has been kept open for her and that she can continue her canine training when she returns from leave.
The Redondo Beach Police Officers’ Association, the department’s union, did not respond to a request for comment.
Glenn’s case highlights the challenges pregnant officers sometimes face in overwhelmingly male police departments. Women make up less than 13 percent of law enforcement officers nationwide, according to FBI statistics, and in recent years there have been multiple legal complaints from female police officers who say they were discriminated against because of their pregnancies.
Renee Abt, a detective with the U.S. Park Police, settled a lawsuit with the agency in 2015 after she alleged she had been given clerical work after announcing her pregnancy, The Post reported. The legal action led to the agency revising its policies. And beginning in 2017, Jennifer Panattoni, an officer with the Frankfort, Ill., police department, launched a case claiming that she was forced to go on leave during both of her pregnancies. The lawsuit was settled, resulting in the department agreeing to change its policies.
Under federal law, forcing a pregnant police officer into a “light-duty” assignment if she wants to continue her regular assignment can be a form of discrimination, according to a 2003 Justice Department analysis. California’s Fair Employment and Housing Act similarly prohibits employers from discriminating against pregnant employees.
Eleven of the Redondo Beach Police Department’s 92 sworn officers are women, and only one of its female officers is Black, according to department statistics.
Glenn joined the department in 2017 and became a dog handler in 2021 after training and testing for the position, according to the lawsuit. That October, after she learned she was pregnant, she informed her supervisors, who swiftly removed her from her patrol position, citing “safety” concerns, the lawsuit alleges. Glenn was moved to work dispatch, a “light duty desk assignment,” the lawsuit states, adding that the department also took away her patrol vehicle.
When Glenn raised her concerns with the union that the department was discriminating against her, its president, Robert Carlborg, made the comment about pushing her down stairs, according to the lawsuit.
And when Glenn told her superior, Lt. Corey King, about the comments, he told Glenn to ignore them, the lawsuit states. King, who is not named as a defendant in the lawsuit, did not respond to a request for comment from The Post.
In November, during a canine training exercise, King tried to cajole Glenn into leaving the canine unit because it would be “too hard to work as a canine handler as a new single mother,” he said, according to the lawsuit. That day, King told Glenn that she would no longer be allowed to attend the training, which was required for her to continue as a canine handler, the lawsuit says.
About a month and a half later, department officials told Glenn that they had decided to sell her dog, and she turned it over in January. Glenn continued to work her desk job until she went on maternity leave in June, the lawsuit states.
The lawsuit alleges that a male officer with a disability was given different treatment than Glenn when he continued working patrol and attending canine trainings without concerns for his safety.
And, according to the lawsuit, he got to keep his dog.