TUCSON – The City of Tucson has been ordered to pay a Tucson Fire paramedic nearly $4 million after failing to provide her with a private place to pump breast milk.
Carrie Clark asked her employers for a private room to pump while on duty when she returned from maternity leave in 2012, according to court records.
“The law requires that employers provide a space free from intrusion from coworkers and the public to express their breast milk,” explained Clark’s attorney, Jeffrey Jacobson. “That wasn’t made immediately available to her.”
Jacobson said, at the time, an investigation found more than 40 percent of Tucson fire stations were not compliant with the law.
“Subsequent to that is when the City of Tucson actually brought all of its fire stations into compliance,” he said. “After she complained, though, is when the hammer of retribution really started coming down on her.”
Court documents show Clark believed the department retaliated against her in the wake of her complaint, assigning her to an undesirable station and denying a transfer request.
This month, a jury awarded Clark $3.8 million in damages for all of her claims, including retaliation and violations of the Fair Labor Standards Act.
Jacobson said he hopes this ruling sends a message far and wide.
“This case was not about the hardworking men and women of Tucson Fire. They are our heroes,” said Jacobson. “This case was always about some poor decisions made along the way by Tucson Fire administration. Carrie is just looking forward to getting back to work and serving the citizens of Tucson.”
A spokesperson with the City of Tucson issued the following statement on the matter:
“The City is not going to comment on the jury verdict at this time. The City Attorney is preparing post-trial motions to file with the Court, and is evaluating the City’s position on an appeal.“