Paramedic Mom Awarded $3.8 Million in Breast-Pumping Discrimination Case

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She was told her pumping seemed "excessive" and she wasn't "fit for duty."

A breastfeeding mom in Arizona won millions in a lawsuit that claimed her employer was violating her rights by not providing her a space to breast pump for her baby.

Carrie Ferrara Clark, a paramedic, sued the City of Tuscon Fire Department for not having a lactation room and for retaliating against her after she expressed concerns about it. In the lawsuit, Carrie said the fire stations she worked at violated the Fair Labor Standards Act because they didn’t have space for her to pump when she returned from maternity leave in 2012. According to her attorneys, about 40 percent of stations were not compliant in providing lactation rooms at the time.

When she brought this up to human resources, her HR manager initially suggested she could use bedrooms in the station to pump in. But Carrie noted it wouldn’t work because it was unreasonable to have the people sleeping in the rooms leave every two to three hours during overnight shifts. She was then told “your pumping seems excessive to me” by the manager and "it seems to me that you're not fit for duty." She also said she used sick and vacation time to avoid having to work at stations that didn’t have space for her to pump.

The mom mentioned her concerns to the department’s equal opportunity division and said she was retaliated against for doing so, when she started to receive less favorable assignments. When she asked about the assignments , an assistant chief said, “Well, that’s what happens when you file a complaint with EEO."

An Arizona jury sided with Clark and awarded her $3.8 million. The jury determined that she was discriminated against and wasn’t provided with lactation spaces that meet legal requirements. According to her attorney Jeffery Jacobson, she is eager to move forward.

"This case was not about the hardworking men and women of Tucson Fire. They are heroes. This case was always about, however, some poor decisions that were made along the way by Tucson Fire administration. Carrie is just looking forward to getting back to work and serving the citizens of Tucson," he told local news station ABC7.

The city hasn’t released a comment on the ruling, but is planning on appealing.

This article was originally published on Working Mother.

Ruth Martin-Gordon