Colleen M. Arnett
Livorno & Arnett Co., LPA
1335 Dublin Road, Suite 108-B
Columbus, OH 43215
Carrie Clark, a fire paramedic with the City of Tucson, has been awarded a $3.8 million settlement after the department failed to provide her with a private place to pump her breast milk and retaliated against her when she complained.
She filed the lawsuit in July 2014, claiming that the Tucson Fire Department officials and city human resources personnel denied her requests to be transferred to fire stations which could accommodate her while pumping breast milk.
According to Clark, the alternatives the City offered included private bedrooms being used by fire chiefs or captains, which would have required waking those officers every few hours and asking them to leave the room so she could pump, which she considered inappropriate. Clark had found a colleague who was willing to transfer out of a station with appropriate accommodations to free up a spot for Clark, but fire department officials ignored the request. As a result she was forced to bounce around fire stations that weren’t equipped with appropriate spaces. When she voiced her concerns, fire department and city officials ignored her, saying that she didn’t deserve special accommodations and questioned her need to pump every two to three hours.
After Clark informed the City that the department may have violated federal labor standards by denying her access, city officials reportedly retaliated and continued to harass her further.
Federal labor standards require that employers provide break time for employees to pump breast milk for one year after the baby is born and also provide a private place, other than a bathroom, where employees can pump.
The April 12, 2019, verdict stated that the city had violated Clark’s Title VII rights, the Fair Labor Standards Act and retaliated against her in both cases.