The ACLU of Illinois represents Judith Miller, a breastfeeding parent who was denied the opportunity to serve on a jury for the Circuit Court of Cook County because she needed accommodations to pump breast milk.
Because of her training as a trial attorney, Ms. Miller knows the important role that juries play in the justice system. When she was called for jury duty, she was eager to perform this civic duty. She reported for jury service at the Daley Center in Chicago on October 2, 2017 and immediately asked at the jury service desk about a space she could use to pump breast milk. The clerk told Ms. Miller that the only space available for her to use was the men’s restroom, because the women’s restroom did not have the electrical outlet necessary to operate her breast pump. However, the men’s restroom was not an option, as men would need to use that facility, and, more importantly, a bathroom is not an appropriate space for handling food for a baby. The Daley Center’s website states that a designated lactation room was available for jurors; however, the clerk told Ms. Miller that he could not reach anyone who could provide access to that room. For approximately two hours, Ms. Miller sought accommodations to express breast milk but was denied access to any private, non-bathroom space where she could pump. Faced with the choice of either pumping in a men’s restroom or going home, Ms. Miller reluctantly agreed to be excused from jury service.
We have filed a charge with the Illinois Department of Human Rights on Ms. Miller’s behalf, alleging discrimination under the public accommodations provisions of the Illinois Human Rights Act, based on the court’s denial of a reasonable accommodation for Ms. Miller to express breast milk.