The Clinton Herald, Clinton, Iowa

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March 21, 2014

Firefighter files appeal

CLINTON — A female Clinton firefighter whose lawsuit against the city of Clinton and former Clinton employees was denied in February, is appealing the decision to the Supreme Court of Iowa.

Last week, Karen McQuistion’s attorney, Roxanne Conlin, filed an appeal of the Feb. 13 decision by Clinton County District Court Judge Henry Latham. The civil case was originally filed against the city of Clinton, former Fire Chief Mark Regenwether, former City Attorney Jeffrey Farwell and former City Administrator Jeffrey Horne on March 28, 2012.

McQuistion has served on the fire department since January 2001. According to court documents, McQuistion notified her battalion chief, Joel Atkinson, in May 2011 that she was pregnant and requested to be put on light duty. Light duty includes water hydrant checks, fire prevention duties, inspections, juvenile fire offender program duties and training assignments.

After Regenwether, Farwell and Horne met to discuss her pregnancy in June 2011, McQuistion’s request for light duty work was rejected. She stopped working on Sept. 29, 2011 and returned to work on March 14, 2012, with the same pay and benefits she had previously received.

McQuistion’s lawsuit claims the city’s decision infringed on her right to procreate and did not keep with the fire department’s policy to offer light duty to other firefighters with disabilities. However, in his 13-page judgement, Latham states that this does not apply to McQuistion, as the city’s policy only provides light duty for employees disabled on the job. He added that her pregnancy or “disability” was clearly not acquired on the job.

McQuistion’s lawsuit also referenced two Clinton policewomen given light duty during their pregnancies. However, police and firefighters fall under different collective bargaining agreements.

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