Illinois clothing store clerk disregards the law and tells mother breastfeeding isn’t allowed in their store

A mother, Breanna Frick,‎ was breastfeeding her 5-week-old infant while shopping at the Springfield, Illinois rue21 clothing store when she needed to feed her infant. She continued to shop and breastfeed at the same time, as many ladies do that have the skill, and was approached by an employee who decided to tell her breastfeeding wasn’t allowed in their store and that she’d need to move herself into a fitting room. Usually, when these incident happen the employee claims ignorance to the law. This one employee said they knew the law but chose to disregard it.

This was Breanna Frick’s complaint that she posted on the store’s main Facebook page yesterday:

With this photo of the breastfeeding laws in Illinois.

That’s right. Illinois Rev. Stat. ch. 740 § 137 (2004) states that a mother may breastfeed her baby in any location, public or private, where the mother is otherwise authorized to be. Just because this clerk didn’t want to see it in the store, doesn’t mean she had to right to harass this mother. This employee, who stated she knew the law, clearly doesn’t understand that Ill. Rev. Stat. ch. 720 § 5/11-9 (1995) “clarifies that breastfeeding of infants is not an act of public indecency” and she needs to get over her misguided feelings towards breastfeeding. Or at least not act on them.

As of this evening, Rue21 has not reached out to the mother to offer an apology after she gave them her phone number.

How can you help?

Contact the offending location and let management know that you heard of their mistreatment of a mother and child, that this employee needs to follow the law. Breanna Frick and her child deserve a sincere apology. Then contact rue21 corporate and let them know that they need to take steps to ensure this type of harassment is really taken seriously. When Barnes & Noble harassed a mother, they sent out a nationwide message and reinforced their policy, put the international breastfeeding symbol stick in each of their stores, and donated $10,000 to the local breastfeeding coalition. Rue21 can also do this very easily without Breanna needing to involve Illinois Attorney General Lisa Madigan. The Illinois State Breastfeeding Taskforce or Family Friendly Business would be happy to assist with training.

Offending location:
rue21 at White Oak Mall
2501 Wabash Ave Sp B08a, Springfield, IL 62704
Store phone: (217)726-2075

Contact customer service: 866-533-4783
Write on their Facebook page.
Write a letter:
rue21, Inc.
Attn: Customer Service
800 Commonwealth Dr.
Suite 100
Warrendale, PA 15086

Have you breastfed while shopping at the mall? How should rue21 respond to this incident and one of their employee’s blatant disregard for state laws? Should legal action be taken against this employee for knowingly acting in a discriminatory, unlawful manner? 

Join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, or comment below!

**Update 7.30.2014 9am**

I sent rue21 a message on their website yesterday and received this message this morning:

In case you cannot read it, it says, “At rue21, we are fully committed to the rights of nursing moms. We truly apologize for what happened at our store in Springfield and have reached out to Breanna to offer our apologizes. Our policy is that women have the right to breastfeed in our stores, and we are currently re-educating our store teams to ensure compliance with all laws and to respect the rights of all nursing moms. We thank Breanna for bringing this matter to our attention, and we reaffirm our commitment to public breastfeeding at each of our 1,052 locations.”

I have not confirmed with the mother about whether or not she’s actually received an apology but if she has, I hope this response satisfies her. What do you think of their response?

Missouri Michaels employee told breastfeeding mother and child to go nurse outside in 104° summer heat – Made public apology

A Michaels Store in St. Louis, Missouri found itself in hot water after an employee told a mother to remove herself and her infant from the store and take her breastfeeding outside during the summer heat. Then, when the mother stood up for herself and refused to go outside and the other customers sided with her, the employee set up a chair facing the wall. Yes, facing the wall.

Jessa Marie‎ shared her story on social media this afternoon.

This was the photo Jessa shared of herself and her daughter.

[Jessa Marie & her daughter. Photo credit: Judd Demaline]

While the store manager did offer an apology, Michaels still broke Missouri’s breastfeeding law.

Mo. Rev. Stat. § 191.918 (1999, 2014) allows a mother to breastfeed her child or express breast milk in any public or private location where the mother is otherwise authorized to be. The law also states that breastfeeding a child or expressing breast milk does not constitute sexual conduct or sexual contact as defined in § 566.010, and is not considered an act of public indecency, indecent exposure, lewd touching or obscenity. A municipality may not enact an ordinance prohibiting or restricting a mother from breastfeeding or expressing breast milk in a public or private location. (2014 HB 1320)

My thoughts

Women are already boycotting Michaels competitor, Hobby Lobby, for not supporting women, and Jessa is calling for a full company boycott as well. Will I stop shopping at Michaels? Yes, until I hear of a sincere apology and their plans to ensure this doesn’t happen again. It is shame when the actions of one store sullies the brand of a whole chain but Michaels can still learn from this and really come out in support of families. When Barnes & Noble harassed a mother in New York, they sent out a nationwide message and reinforced their policy, put international breastfeeding symbol stickers in each of their stores, and donated $10,000 to the local breastfeeding coalition. Michaels can also do this very easily, turning this incident into an important positive movement for company and communities across the US and Canada.

How can you help?

Contact the offending location and let management know that you heard of their mistreatment of a mother and child. Ask what their written breastfeeding policy is, if they have one, and how they plan to ensure this doesn’t happen again. Then contact Michaels corporate and let them know that they need to take steps to ensure this type of harassment is really taken seriously. If a written policy has not been created, it needs to be. The Missouri Breastfeeding Coalition or Family Friendly Business would be happy to assist with training.

Offending location:
Michaels
1519 S Brentwood Blvd
Brentwood, MO 63144-1406
Phone: (314) 961-1395

Write on their Facebook page wall

Twitter @MichaelsStores
Call customer service: 1-800-MICHAELS (800-642-4235, option 6)
Contact customer service online: CLICK TO CHAT (Update: The CS center told me they don’t know in store employee policies and directed me to call instead.)

Headquarter Address
8000 Bent Branch Dr.
Irving, TX 75063

How does this incident make you feel? How should Michaels corporate respond this incident? 

Join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, or comment below!

**Update 7.28.2014 10:15am**

The mother confirmed that she hadn’t heard from corporate yet this morning, just the standard auto reply. After I heard from her, I called Michaels this morning to ask what their breastfeeding policy is. The Customer Service Representative I spoke to told me it’s their policy to allow breastfeeding and milk expression in their stores. If a mother asks for a private space, they will make every effort to accommodate her.

I asked if she heard about the Missouri incident and she said yes, she was told about it first thing this morning. I asked if just the customer service center was informed, because they were receiving phone calls, or if all stores received a memo this morning. She said she believed all stores received the memo. She said Michaels has not composed a statement about the incident yet though.

**Update 7.29.2014**

Michaels posted this apology on their Facebook page today:

Jessa Marie responded to their Facebook apology, stating:

Thank you very much for your apology, I greatly appreciate it. I think it is important to note that it was not one associate but two associates and a manager who had an issue with me breastfeeding in the store. It was a customer who came to my aid so that I was able to nurse in the craft room. That being said, I am so happy to learn that Michael’s has a wonderful policy in place for nursing mothers, and applaud you for making sure that this is known throughout the company so that nothing like this ever happens again. Thank you!!”

My thoughts? This is a wonderful response. They took full responsibility for the actions of an employee, apologized, and are trying to make sure it doesn’t happen again.

See what happens when women stand up for themselves and their children? We will not tolerate being bullied, harassed, and shamed for feeding our children. We will stand up for others when they need our help. Good job, mamas!

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Breastfeeding in Public: Gwen Stefani

Gwen Stefani shared this photo on her Facebook page earlier today with the comment “#Switzerland !!!!!”

[Gwen Stefani's latest NIP photo.]

No cover? No problem! Good for her! Gwen joins a long list of high-profile women who have shared their personal breastfeeding journey with a photo or two to help normalize it with the public. Have you seen the photos shared by Jaime KingNatalia Vodianova, Giselle Bündchen, Miranda KerrJessie James DeckerEmma Heming WillisPink, and Teresa Palmer?

Speaking of Switzerland, did you know my breastfeeding portrait was shared on the cover of a LLL magazine in Switzerland?

Breastfeed in public with pride, ladies!

What do you think of this worldwide breastfeeding selfie movement? 

Join the conversation on Facebook or comment below!

 

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Mother breastfeeding in the bathroom told by Walmart employee to get in the stall, Walmart attempts social media cover-up – Finally apologizes

Kelly Messing was breastfeeding her child in the bathroom of a Jacksonville, North Carolina Walmart earlier today when she was approached by an employee and told to move into the stall.

This was her complaint on Walmart’s Facebook page earlier today:

Really? A mother who was already very clearly trying to hide herself and limit her breast exposure to anyone by feeding in the bathroom was told that she should have further removed herself and squatted on the toilet to nourish her child?? The employee bullied her into a stall?

The bathroom is not where babies should eat. No one should eat in the bathroom. Kelly did not need to be in there but since she was already in there, she should have just been left alone. Walmart broke North Carolina’s breastfeeding law.

N.C. Gen. Stat. § 14-190.9 (1993) states that a woman is allowed to breastfeed in any public or private location, and that she is not in violation of indecent exposure laws. (HB 1143)

It is clear that the employee and anyone who helped to that decision was in the wrong and any customers who might have complained should have been informed of the mother’s right to feed her child and the child’s right to eat, per North Carolina’s state laws.

What is Walmart’s breastfeeding policy?

After an incident at a Greenville store just last month, a Walmart spokesman said it is Walmart’s policy to treat all breastfeeding mothers with respect. I believe they’ve missed the mark again. It is not respectful to stand around a mother feeding her child and insist she move someplace else. Instead of telling a mother feeding her child to get in the stall, they should have told her she is welcome to breastfeed anywhere in the store she would like and maybe offer her a rocking chair in the baby or furniture section.

How can you help?

Contact the offending location and let management know that you heard of their mistreatment of a mother and child, that they need to step up to follow the law and show a little compassion. Kelly Messing and her child deserve a sincere apology. Then contact Walmart corporate and let them know that they need to take steps to ensure this type of harassment, which keeps happening in their stores (20042010, 20132014), is really taken seriously. When Barnes & Noble harassed a mother, they sent out a nationwide message and reinforced their policy, put the international breastfeeding symbol stick in each of their stores, and donated $10,000 to the local breastfeeding coalition. Walmart can also do this very easily. The North Carolina Breastfeeding Coalition or Family Friendly Business would be happy to assist with training.

Offending location:
Walmart, 2025 N Marine Blvd, Jacksonville, NC, 28546
Store phone: (910) 455-2358
Email customer service
Call 1-800-WALMART (1-800-925-6278)
Write on their wall - Walmart Jacksonville – N Marine Blvd
Main Facebook page wall
Tweet @walmart

My message to Walmart (which they deleted from their Facebook page mere minutes after I posted it):

I went back to my comment above on Walmart’s Facebook page less than 20 minutes after posting it to double check for errors and make corrections and found that Walmart just straight up deleted my post. Walmart also deleted all of the other comments made by breastfeeding supporters. Businesses do this all the time though – United deleted a perfectly respectful comment of mine two days ago as well after their own repeat breastfeeding harassment incident. They do not like being publicly called out for harassing their customers, for their employees breaking the law. There’s no need for censorship though. It only makes them look worse.

Have they responded to Kelly? This was their reply on her Facebook post:

My thoughts? A much better reply would have been a statement of their support for breastfeeding in all of their stores, their written policy that aligns with state law, and a sincere apology while they investigate the incident.

How does this treatment of a mother and child at Walmart make you feel? How should Walmart respond to these repeated incidents? What do you think of their censorship of valid concerns on social media?

Join the conversation on Facebook or comment below!

**Update 7.25.2014 9PM**

There is going to be a nurse-in, or peaceful gathering to “shop” and breastfeed to raise awareness in the store on Sunday at 11am. Join the Facebook event page for details.

**Update 7.27.2014**

Walmart apologized for this incident. Watch video of the nurse-in and news coverage of the incident.

Greenville, NC 

**7.29.2014**

Kelly reported this on her Facebook page earlier today:

“I would like to tell everyone what Walmart has done for me..
The manager called me today and told me that he PERSONALLY talked to every shift about there policy, said they are adding a breastfeeding slideshow to all training courses. He apologized millions of times, very sincerely, and said if I need anything to contact him. They also are generously giving me a gift card, he said he knows it wont take away what happened but he hopes I will give the store another chance. He also encouraged me to continue feeding my daughter because it’s the best for her!
I’m very happy with what was said & done.”

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#FreeTheNipple – Why is this even controversial?

It might have taken me three kids to realize this, but how I choose to feed my child is up to me. I breastfed my baby how we feel most comfortable. When we’re out and about, I breastfeed in public and I don’t carry covers. When we’re home, we have lots of skin to skin bonding time and it’s just wonderful. This is us.

[Side lying Breastfeeding, skin to skin bonding time.]

Why is my bare chest, a free nipple, slightly to fully “exposed” even something to worry about? Something others would waste their time chastising me over? I’m meeting my child’s needs. We’re healthy and happy. Everyone has nipples. What’s the big deal? Mine just happen to feed babies (three!) right now and I’m pretty proud of them and my body.

Here we are breastfeeding a few days ago.

[Breastfeeding to sleep in the cradle hold.]

My five-month-old son fell asleep and suckled in his sleep for a bit until I unlatched him. I caressed his skin as he slept and breathed in his baby smell. That is how simple and beautiful parenting an infant can be. These moments are priceless to me, one of the reasons why I occasionally snap photos of us and sometimes take videos.

But some people just cannot accept the female body and the mere fact that I have a nipple in one and not the other makes some people mad. But really, both of my photos are perfectly acceptable. Just as all of these are:

Last month, when Facebook changed their breastfeeding photo policy to allow nipples exposed, I made this poster using celebrity photos. I hope they don’t mind my point. I was happy to be a part of the announcement to the world (despite the legions of trolls that descended upon me for using my body as I saw fit) and was thankful for this small victory, a tiny bit more freedom. Freedom to be allowed to be a woman and have bare skin like my male counterparts. At the same time, I was angered that it was afforded only to breastfeeding mothers and I was and still am upset by the fact that men have the freedom to be topless in public, perform as musicians without shirts, go swimming, share photos of themselves holding their newborns on their bare chests, or whatever they want, and no one bats an eye. It should be the same for women.

I’ll repeat my message to Facebook and the world:

We are proud to nourish our babies with our breasts and we will not be shamed for it. We will share our special/difficult/funny/priceless breastfeeding moments with our friends, families, and community and we will not to told to keep them to ourselves. Enough with the shaming of women. We are mothers and we are strong. We are equal.

And as a woman, I refuse to be pinned into only allowing photos of my chest to be seen if I have a baby on one side.

It’s time to get over it.

#FreeTheNipple
#YesAllWomen
#Equality

Why do you think breastfeeding with a free nipple is controversial? When do you think women will have the same topless rights as men here in the US?

Join the conversation on Facebook, Twitter, or comment below.

 

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Breastfeeding in the media: Antiques Roadshow features breastfeeding painting

Antiques Roadshow, an American television program broadcast on PBS (Public Broadcasting Service Public television stations) where local antiques owners bring in items to be appraised by experts, appraised a breastfeeding painting on a show back in 1999. Why am I just now bringing this up? Well, their website is currently featuring the episode with a screen shot of the breastfeeding painting as the first image in their slideshow on their website’s front page.

See?

How great is that? It’s simple, every day support like this, seeing breastfeeding in the media without covers or censorship, that helps new mothers feel more confident in themselves and their ability to feed their babies.

Watch APPRAISAL: ADRIEN EMMANUEL MARIE ”THE YOUNG HEIR” OIL or the full Salt Lake City, Utah episode from 1999 (52:49).

[Crop of French painter Adrien Emmanuel Marie's "The Young Heir" oil painting]

Go give them some positive feedback for supporting breastfeeding families! Facebook | Twitter @RoadshowPBS

How does seeing breastfeeding normalized on television and on the internet make you feel?

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Ohio Restaurant kicks out breastfeeding mother & child despite patrons standing up for them – Amends made

Can you imagine being kicked out for merely eating your meal or feeding your child a sandwich? No? Well, women get harassed every day for just feeding their children what they were born to eat, milk from their mother’s breast. Nearly every single state in the US specifically protects a mother’s right to feed her child to help stop bullying like this NIP (nursing in public) harassment incident a mother tweeted earlier today at a restaurant in Ohio, but clearly, it still happens.

This is Jennifer Rome’s tweet:

In case you cannot read it, Jen ‏@WhyCLE wrote:

“Worst mom experience: I was asked to leave Gia Lai in @LegacyVillageOH for nursing the baby WHILE I WAS STILL NURSING. I was under the cover in a back booth and the nearest patrons even told staff I wasn’t any bother to them. Not only embarrassing but bad for the baby.”

Really. It just so happens this mother is also a blogger and she’s writing a post on what happened as I type. (Update: Read her post here.) I will share it when I see it. Until then, go give her some Facebook, Instagram, & Twitter support.

What is Ohio’s breastfeeding law?

Ohio Rev. Code Ann. § 3781.55 (2005) provides that a mother is entitled to breastfeed her baby in any location of a place of public accommodation wherein the mother is otherwise permitted. (SB 41

How can you help?

Contact the offending restaurant, and let management know that you heard of their mistreatment of a mother and child, that they need to step up to follow the law. The mother deserves a sincere apology and they need to take steps to ensure this type of harassment doesn’t happen again by training all of their staff immediately. They should also be sure to train all new hires how to properly treat breastfeeding families. I bet the Ohio Breastfeeding Alliance or Family Friendly Business would be happy to assist with this. Once they’ve been trained, placing a “Breastfeeding is welcome here” sticker in their window would be a great way to show their support for the families in their community.

Gia Lai
25241 Cedar Rd, Lyndhurst, OH 44124
Phone: (216) 381-7200
info@gialairestaurant.com
Facebook
Twitter: @GiaLaiDining

Feel Write on the mall’s Facebook wall to tell them you heard of a restaurant on their property mistreating a mother and child and that they should inform all of their security personnel how to respond appropriately in the future.

How does this incident make you feel? Have you ever been asked to cover up or leave while eating a meal? 

Join the conversation on Facebook or comment below!

**Update 7.24.2014**

The mall responded to my post on their Facebook page.

I am still waiting on a reply from the restaurant.

**2nd Update 7.24.2014 11:50pm**

The Operations Manager of Gia Lai Restaurant, Kelly Wherley, extended an apology to Jennifer Rome in a personal email. I won’t post the whole thing but Jen did. Read it on her blog. At the very end of her message Kelly wrote, “Although this was an unfortunate situation for both parties, we will take this opportunity to better train all of our staff and make a pledge that it won’t happen to another mother at our restaurant.”

Jen tweeted this earlier today:

I am happy she is satisfied with their apology. That is really what is important, right? Her feelings about what happened and how they reacted after kicking her out and hearing from the world about how unacceptable that was. I really do hope this situation has helped raise awareness of this unfortunate mistreatment of women, how important treating mothers and children with respect really is, and that this doesn’t happen again in that Ohio mall.

Also, I hate to send traffic to Fox News but I’m happy the covered this story.

 

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