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Tucson paramedic wins $3.8M in lawsuit over pumping milk

TUCSON, Ariz. — An Arizona paramedic has been awarded $3.8 million after a jury said the city of Tucson failed to provide her with a private place to pump breast milk and retaliated against her when she complained, court records show.

Carrie Clark sued the city in 2014, saying Tucson Fire Department officials and human resources staffers denied her requests to transfer to fire stations that could accommodate her as she pumped, the Arizona Daily Star newspaper reported .

After she informed the city that the department may have violated federal labor standards, Clark says city officials retaliated and continued to harass her.

City spokeswoman Lane Mandle said Tucson would not comment on the verdict but was evaluating a possible appeal.

Federal labor standards require that employers provide break time and a private place, other than a bathroom, for employees to pump breast milk for one year after a baby is born, the U.S. Department of Labor website shows.

Clark gave birth in 2012 and requested a transfer to a station with a private area for pumping, along with refrigerator space for storing her milk.

She found a colleague willing to transfer out of a station with those accommodations to free up a spot for her, but Tucson Fire Department officials ignored the request, court documents show.

Clark, who returned to work as a swing paramedic, began to bounce around fire stations that weren’t equipped with appropriate spaces.

When she voiced her concerns, the department and city officials ignored her, saying she didn’t deserve special accommodations and questioned her need to pump every two to three hours, documents say.

Officials kept retaliating against Clark after the lawsuit was filed, including giving her educational counseling for “not being in harmony with others” and transferring her in 2016, court records show.

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Information from: Arizona Daily Star, http://www.tucson.com

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