D.C. Assistant Police Chief Told to “Have an Abortion or be Fired”

The assistant police chief in Washington, D.C., one of 10 Black women who filed a class-action lawsuit last month against the city alleging widespread discrimination, said this week that as a cadet she was told she had to get an abortion to keep her job.

“My choice to have a baby was personal, and it should’ve been mine alone and not for an employer ultimatum,” Chanel Dickerson said Tuesday at a community meeting. “I was told I had to have an abortion or be fired from the MPD cadet program.” She said she was 18 at the time.

It was unclear what happened afterward, but Dickerson has been with the department since 1988, according to the department’s website.

Dickerson and the other former and current employees of the Metropolitan Police Department said in the lawsuit filed in September that they were discriminated against because of their race and gender, and that the division in charge of addressing harassment is run by a man who has expressed hostility toward female officers and tried to discredit women who have come forward.

“I understand the dire consequences to me participating in this lawsuit,” Dickerson said at the time, adding she has been subjected to repeated sexual harassment in her tenure as an officer.

Another lawsuit was filed this week by three Black women, all former cadets, alleging abuse and retaliation.

The women in the initial lawsuit allege that they had each complained to superiors and the equal opportunity department multiple times about unfair treatment on the basis of their race and gender but were ignored.

When they reported the discrimination claims, they faced retaliation and in some cases were forced out, they said in the lawsuit.

The Metropolitan Police Department did not respond to a request for comment Thursday about Dickerson’s claim.

It said previously in a statement that it could not comment on pending litigation but “is committed to treating all members fairly and equitably throughout our organization.”