Most in community support officer who stayed home with kids during Hurricane Irma
They work hard through the hurricane to help us.
But should their job come first or their kids?
Tuesday night we first told you about a Port St. Lucie Police officer who was suspended without pay after she called in sick during Hurricane Irma in September because she had to stay home and take care of her children.
Legally speaking, did police go too far by suspending her?
One labor law attorney says the law in a case like this is clear.
According to an Internal Affairs report, Port St. Lucie Police officer Erika Curry has been suspended for 120 hours without pay for calling in sick during Hurricane Irma on September 9 and September 10. Her husband, a county firefighter, was activated and had to work during the storm.
She told her supervisors she couldn’t get anyone to watch her two small kid, a little boy and little girl both under the age of 3, so she had to stay home during the hurricane and take care of her children. At first she requested vacation time. When that request was denied, she then called in sick.
“I’ve already booked out for today, so I wanted to let you know that tomorrow, of course, I’m gonna be calling in sick too because of the whole you know, no child care,” Curry said in a voicemail that was released by Port St. Lucie Police.
People we spoke with in Port St. Lucie feel the police were wrong to suspend her.
“I don’t think it’s fair,” said Janet Schlembach, Port St. Lucie part-time resident.
“I think it’s wrong. I think your family comes first during Hurricane Irma,” said Michele Webb, Port St. Lucie resident.
“I don’t feel they should’ve suspended her. It’s important to protect the people of Port St. Lucie during a hurricane but it’s also extremely important for a mother to take care of her children as well,” said Susan Slater, Port St. Lucie resident.
A labor law attorney says in cases like this, the law is not on Officer Curry’s side.
“If you make the decision to not show up and the employer decides to take action in response, disciplinary in nature, your ability legally to address and respond to that is exceptionally limited,” said Arthur Schofield, a labor law attorney in West Palm Beach.
Officer Erika Curry has already served her 120 hours’ suspension without pay. She would not comment on camera.
But she told us: “As a mom, I think family comes first. I would like a plan put in place so no other first responder, male or female, is put in the position where they have to risk their job or be punished for protecting their family. I hope nobody else has to go through what I had to go through.”
Do you think Port St. Lucie Police were wrong to suspend her for staying home to take care of her kids?
As of Wednesday evening, our CBS12.com poll on this question shows:
More than 200 people have voted.
About 35 percent say yes, she should’ve been suspended.
About 65 percent say no, she should not have been suspended by police for calling in sick in a hurricane to watch her children.