PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — A former Lincoln City Police Department senior officer is suing the police department and three members of the police force for wrongful discharge. She says she was fired after she told them she was pregnant.
Summer Danneker, 43, filed the suit against the City of Lincoln City, its police department, and Lt. David Broderick, Sgt. Robert Bomar, and Chief Jerry Palmer on Wednesday and is demanding a jury trial.
According to the lawsuit, Danneker worked as a senior police officer for the Lincoln City Police Department from Sept. 11, 2017 until Aug. 1, 2020, when she was fired.
On Jan. 15, 2020, Danneker visited her doctor after she had been experiencing extreme fatigue. During the doctor’s appointment, Danneker took a urinalysis that indicated she was pregnant. Due to her age and birth control methods she and her partner had been practicing, Danneker doubted the accuracy of the urinalysis and her doctor recommended they do a series of blood tests.
While waiting for the results of the blood tests, Danneker attended a defensive tactics training in Las Vegas. At the training, she reportedly told a training officer that there was a possibility that she may be pregnant and that she was awaiting the results.
The training officer recommended accommodations for Danneker during the training and continued to accommodate her even after she received confirmation from her doctor on Jan. 29, 2020 that she was in fact pregnant. According to the lawsuit, Danneker completed the program with the accommodations and received her certification.
On Feb. 6, 2020, Danneker said she told Sgt. Bomar that she was pregnant and he quickly notified Lt. Broderick.
Danneker asked the police department to accommodate her pregnancy. She provided copies of paperwork from her doctor’s appointment stating she should not lift more than 20 pounds, should not be exposed to toxins, and that her duty belt must be properly fitted.
Shortly after learning Danneker was pregnant, the lawsuit says Broderick asked his assistant to contact the defensive tactics training program to see if Danneker had attended and if she would be certified. The lawsuit says this is not standard procedure.
Broderick said his assistant spoke to someone at the program other than the training officer who had accommodated Danneker and was told she had not been certified.
The lawsuit says Broderick jumped to conclusions and assumed Danneker did not participate, rather than asking her about it or consulting with the head of the program.
On Feb. 10, 2020, Danneker told Chief Palmer that she was pregnant. Nine days later, Broderick opened an internal affairs investigation into Danneker based on the fact that he believed she had failed to receive her certification and did not participate in the training in Las Vegas.
After receiving notice of the investigation, Danneker was immediately placed on administrative leave until her termination in August.
According to the lawsuit, Broderick and the other defendants later learned Danneker had been certified at the defense tactics training, but even after learning this, they continued to pursue the investigation. Danneker accuses them of recasting the investigation as being about her credibility and focusing on the timing of her disclosure of her pregnancy.
The lawsuit says other employees who were not pregnant were not subjected to this same level of scrutiny related to their attendance at training.
During the internal affairs investigation, Danneker said she repeatedly told Chief Palmer she believed she was being discriminated against based on her gender and because she was pregnant. She said Palmer did not investigate her allegations of discrimination and did not refer her allegations to human resources.
The lawsuit does not state specifically how much Danneker is hoping to obtain through the trial, but it says she is seeking monetary relief, damages, costs, and attorney fees.
Danneker is being represented by attorneys Robert K. Meyer and Ashley Bannon Moore.
In a statement to KOIN 6 News, Moore said, “A woman should never have to choose between a career and becoming a mother. Officer Danneker is deeply saddened by the Lincoln City Police Department and those whose archaic conduct in terminating her after her pregnancy disclosure deprived her of this choice. As this case progresses, we look forward to the transparency and accountability that only the courts can provide.”
KOIN 6 News also reached out to the Lincoln City Police Department for comment, but we have not yet heard back.