North Country sheriff’s office under fire amid allegations of harassment

Published: Aug. 17, 2022 at 5:50 PM EDT
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PLATTSBURGH, N.Y. (WCAX) - More allegations of harassment at the Clinton County Sheriff’s Department. This time, it’s a former deputy who says the department penalized her for pumping breast milk.

Chelsea Warick says she’s wanted to be a cop since she was a kid. She thought it was a way to give back and help her community.

After landing a job at the Clinton County Sheriff’s Department in 2013, she says she quickly learned the job would come with years of harassment and discrimination.

“I wanted to help the community, I wanted to just be out there and I thought I could make a difference,” Warick said.

Warick was elated to serve as a deputy with the Clinton County Sheriff’s Department.

“I’ve always been a big strong supporter of women and thinking we can do anything a man can do and I wanted to prove that to myself and my family and I did,” she said.

But on the job, she says she quickly learned that being a woman came with different treatment than her male co-workers. She says one of her superiors frequently commented on her body.

“I did file a complaint against that lieutenant. It was founded. And ever since then, I was passed over for promotions,” Warick said.

She says for the nine years she worked at the department she was denied several promotions, despite being qualified and doing well on civil service exams.

Still, she didn’t want to make waves.

“I guess I just kind of accepted it,” she said. “I complained the first time and I saw it got me nowhere.”

In 2020, she found out she was pregnant with her first child.

She said during her pregnancy, the department was great, but that changed after the baby was born and she returned to work. She needed to pump her breast milk for 20 minutes twice per shift, but her sergeant said she wasn’t being productive because of the pumping.

She filed another Equal Employment Opportunity complaint.

“Right after I made that complaint, they took my pumping privileges away and made a mothers’ nursing policy,” Warick said.

That policy required anyone pumping at work to use paid time off to pump or to make the time up at the end of their shift. She hired a lawyer.

“It wasn’t until I brought it to my union’s attention that my lawyer said it was not legal, that they said, ‘Oh, we overlooked it, this isn’t accurate, this isn’t right,’” Warick said.

The department then made a policy change to allow for 40 minutes of pumping on an 8-hour shift and one hour of pumping on a 12-hour shift without having to make that time up or use paid time off.

But Warick says retaliation for making complaints never stopped. She ultimately decided it was best for her to leave the Clinton County Sheriff’s Department, but she is still pushing for change.

“I want to call for the sheriff’s resignation,” she said. “I think he should step down. I think it’s time for a new sheriff. I think we need major change in there and it’s got to start from the top.”

This isn’t the first allegation of harassment against that department. In April, we reported about a female corrections officer who left her job because of sexual harassment and a hostile work environment. She filed a lawsuit against the sheriff’s department and three of its staff members.

I spoke with Sheriff Dave Favro Wednesday to ask questions about the allegations and hear the department’s side of what happened, but he did not want to comment on the situation. However, on Thursday he agreed to speak with me. Click here for that story.

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