D.C. Assistant Police Chief Chanel Dickerson reveals she was given an ultimatum by the department after she found out she was pregnant — either get an abortion or lose her job. Dickerson revealed the allegation on Tuesday at a community meeting, Fox 5 DC reports. She is one of multiple Black female former police officers involved in a class-action lawsuit against the department. The group is suing for $100 million.
“When I was 18 years old as a police cadet, I was told I had to have an abortion or be fired from the MPD cadet program,” Dickerson said. “My choice to have a baby was personal and it should’ve been mine alone and not for an employer ultimatum.”
“I was told I had to have an abortion or be fired.”
DC Asst Chief Chanel Dickerson shared a deeply personal, disturbing account of what she experienced as a police cadet. She went on to describe a fellow Sgt who “had to do things no woman should ever have to do.” 1/2 @fox5dc
— Lindsay Watts (@LindsayAWatts) October 20, 2021
Ultimately, Dickerson decided to choose her career and put motherhood on the backburner. Dickerson, who is the highest-ranking Black woman police officer in the city, was joined by several other current and former Black female police officers in D.C. at the Unity Baptist Church in Northeast for the community meeting.
“I understand the dire consequences to me participating in this lawsuit,” she said, per NBC News.
Without making any formal accusations, she mentioned another incident of mistreatment, saying a woman officer was left with little options for childcare after the department refused to grant her another schedule.
“Fast forward from that time, I think about how my female colleagues, when I was promoted to sergeant, and it was another sergeant who was promoted with me and she needed a shift that was conducive to taking care of her child as a single mother. Unfortunately, she had to do things no woman should ever have to do to care for her child,” she said.
Dickerson also said she was subjected to multiple instances of sexual harassment.
According to NBC News, three Black women filed the lawsuit in September, alleging that they each faced racial and gender discrimination at their department. They said an officer in charge of handling reports of harassment was overseen by a man who dismissed women’s claims and showed hostility toward those that came forward.
All of the women in the suit said they reported their harassment and discrimination claims to a superior and the equal opportunity department on numerous occasions but didn’t receive an adequate response.
In some cases, women who reported discrimination were pushed out of the force or were subject to some form of retaliation.
The police department said they are investigating all of the allegations.
“While we cannot discuss the specific allegations due to pending litigation, the Metropolitan Police Department is committed to treating all members fairly and equitably throughout our organization. We take these allegations seriously and we will be reviewing them thoroughly and responding accordingly,” the statement read.