Do I Have the Right to Ask for a Lactation Space?

Erin Burt

The other day I heard about a trial lawyer, Judith Miller, who filed a discrimination lawsuit because she was told to use the men’s restroom to pump while she was called for jury duty on maternity leave!

Judith was happy for the opportunity to do her civic duty and be on a jury. She did her due diligence and made sure the Daley Center had a lactation room. She packed up her supplies, and checked in with the clerk on duty. The clerk had no idea where this lactation room was, and wanted to excuse her from duty. But Judith was excited for the opportunity to serve, so she refused. Judith was offered the men’s restroom, because it had a working outlet.

Judith was understandably upset and she worked with the clerk to try to find a more suitable lactation situation, or find this “mythical lactation room.”  She wrote an Op Ed piece to the Chicago Tribune. She talked about the situation that led to her lawsuit, and her frustrations with the holes in the laws protection nursing mothers that are currently in place. She summarized the issue: “Illinois’ laws don’t yet cover government buildings, even though they are the site of core civic functions--like jury duty. And, as the saga of the mythical lactation room shows, good intentions aren’t enough. Illinois should extend its lactation legislation to government buildings.”

It really doesn’t make much sense why our government buildings would not be the first to need to comply with accessibility legislation, both for nursing mothers and disabled citizens. I understand some of our government buildings are old, historical buildings. Some small municipalities may not have the funds to become accessible. But there have got to be opportunities for those groups to be heard, be served, and be involved in our government just like any other citizen. There are so many parts of life that seem to become difficult in the early days of parenting and nursing. It shouldn’t be extra difficult to participate in government. Thank you, Judith, for doing your due diligence to make the process of participating in our government as a new mother a less difficult situation.

Judith Miller’s discrimination lawsuit is currently being reviewed by state investigators.

Jenny Ditch lives in Illinois is thankful for the dedicated nursing space her office had for her while she was pumping.

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