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Mother files complaint, says while she was at Daley Center for jury duty, staff sent her to menís room to pump breast milk
Monday, April 23, 2018 Chicago Tribune by Morgan Greene
She was summoned to jury duty at the downtown Daley Center courthouse, but the Chicago attorney and mother to a newborn said she couldnít fulfill her civic duty because there was no private place to pump breast milk.
So Judith Miller filed a discrimination complaint with the Illinois Department of Human Rights, a possible precursor to a lawsuit against the Cook County court system.
Miller, an assistant clinical professor of law in the Federal Criminal Justice Clinic at the University of Chicago Law School, was ďexcited about the possibility of serving on a juryĒ when she was summoned last fall because her work as an attorney offers ďa unique perspective on the importance of juries,Ē according to the complaint filed with the state human rights office. As the breastfeeding mother of an 11-week-old, she had also done her homework to make sure she could pump milk when she reported for jury service Oct. 2.
According to the complaint, Miller checked the Circuit Court of Cook County website before her jury date for information on the Daley Centerís lactation room. Upon arrival, Miller followed the siteís instructions and contacted a court clerk about using the facility.
Miller says the clerk could not locate the room and told her she could use the menís restroom because the womenís restroom did not have an electrical outlet, required for Millerís breast pump.
At the time of her jury date, Miller needed to pump breast milk or nurse every three hours to maintain milk supply.
Miller says the clerk called Chief Judge Timothy Evansí office about the matter but received no response. After several hours passed, the clerk excused her from jury duty. Miller left the courthouse and didn't serve.
Miller detailed her experience at the Daley Center in a Tribune op-ed published in recent months. "Little did I know that Iíd have no chance at being on the jury,Ē Miller wrote in the opinion piece. "Not because Iím an attorney, and not because Iím a law professor, but because Iím a nursing mother."
Itís unclear whether there was some kind of communication breakdown. A spokesman for Evans says that all Office of Jury Administration rooms, where prospective jurors report, have private space available for nursing mothers. At the Daley Center, a private lactation room is available on the fourth floor.
Other courthouses have private rooms in the childrenís rooms that are available to members of the public who are nursing mothers.
ďIt would have been a reasonable accommodation to make the space available,Ē said Amy Meek, a staff attorney with the American Civil Liberties Union. ďShe was there, and she wanted to serve, and itís your civic duty to be able to access a courthouse and serve on a jury.Ē