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Mom Awarded $3.8 Million In Breast-Pumping Discrimination Case

ambulance paramedic

Being a working mom is no joke. And it takes quite a bit of time to get into the swing of things (some of us never quite get the swing of it, and that's OK too!). But those early weeks and months when you return to work after having a baby are so incredibly hard. Your heart is at home, but you need to work. It's even harder when you're trying to keep breastfeeding. Anyone whose breastfed a baby knows that it's not really something you can schedule for convenient times during the day. When the baby needs to eat, the baby needs to eat! Which is why working moms need to be able to pump milk when they're at work.

Even though federal law requires employers to make reasonable accommodations for pumping moms, too many employers don't do enough. And that can be detrimental for a breastfeeding relationship. When that happens, moms need to fight back, like this paramedic mama in Arizona. After her employers refused to make reasonable accommodations for her pumping, she sued them for discrimination, and was just awarded $3.8 million in the case.

Carrie Ferrera Clark works a paramedic with the City of Tuscon Fire Department. After returning to work following the birth of her baby in 2012, Clark found that the pumping accommodations were less than desirable. In fact, in some cases they were completely nonexistent. There was no space for Clark to pump (her attorneys say that 40 percent of fire stations did not provide lactation rooms at the time Clark returned). When Clark brought it up to HR, she was told to pump in the bedrooms.

However, this would have created a problem for the other firefighters and paramedics using those rooms to sleep on overnight shifts. She was told by a manager that her pumping was excessive and that she wasn't fit for duty. When she reported her concerns to the department's equal opportunity division, she was retaliated against and given less favorable assignments. So Clark sued the department for violating her rights.

We're really glad Clark was able to file her suit, and that a jury found in her favor. Women all over the country experience the same type of discrimination at their workplaces, and probably feel like they don't have much recourse. Clark's attorney Jeffery Jacobson says his client is eager to move forward and get back to doing what she loves. And hopefully the women who come after her won't have to deal with the same issues.

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