North Carolina restaurant faces public scrutiny after breastfeeding mom claims they discriminated against her

A restaurant in Concord, North Carolina is facing scrutiny after a former employee, Brennan Mathis Atwell, claims they harassed her, said pumping was indecent, and removed her from the schedule for needing to pump, something that is protected by federal law.

Brennan shared her side of the story on Facebook yesterday.

“I’m sad to say that my return to work at The Union St. Bistro was short lived. Despite the many federal laws protecting the rights of breastfeeding mothers in the workplace, I was removed from the schedule for pumping milk at the end of my shift. I was told it was “indecent” to express milk in a place that employs males. I hear a lot of people say that gender discrimination no longer exists in the workplace, that women’s rights are no longer an issue. Well guess what folks, I am living proof that in 2015 women, particularly mothers still aren’t equal in the workplace. If you love your Mom don’t eat at The Union St. Bistro.”

The Affordable Care Act states an employer must provide reasonable break time for an employee to express breast milk for her nursing child for one year after the child’s birth each time such employee has need to express milk. (More breastfeeding laws for NC.) All employers covered by the FLSA must comply with the break time for nursing mothers provision.

The restaurant disabled reviews and removed posts on their Facebook page as of this morning. Their only public response was stating the employee was not terminated. Breastfeeding mother and advocate Kari Reilly thinks it’s not right. She told restaurant staff that bullying, shaming, making a mom feel badly is just as bad as firing them. It is a sure way to force her out and feel unwelcome at work.

How can you help?

Contact your North Carolina representative and ask for an enforcement provision.

I suggest the mother contacts the North Carolina Breastfeeding Coalition. (NCBC contact info) and contacts the U.S. Department of Labor’s Wage and Hour Division (WHD) to file a report of discrimination.

Take a stand

It’s up to everyone to help stop the mistreatment of women and children. If you see a woman breastfeeding in public, give her a thumbs up. If you see someone shaming a breastfeeding mom, making fun of her, asking her to cover up, move, or stop, stand up for what’s right and talk to them. Be respectful but honest. It’s not okay to harass moms for taking care of their children. It’s time to stand up for women, babies, our future.

How does this mistreatment of a mother at her workplace make you feel? Does your work support pumping mothers?

Join the conversation on TwitterFacebook, or comment below!

**Update 5.19.2015 @4:13pm**

The mother shared this update on her Facebook page.



Nurse-in planned for Sunday in Oklahoma after breastfeeding mother threatened with eviction for breastfeeding in public

A breastfeeding mother, Missy Smith, in Oklahoma City is now faced with eviction if she doesn’t cover up or nurse her daughter inside, despite the state law that has protected breastfeeding in public since 2004. She says she was reported for breastfeeding on her porch and in her front yard.

This was the report that has gone viral on Facebook:

The mother said the Troy Home Rentals property manager is on her side. But the police and the neighbors are out of line.

She shared more of her story:

“My family and I are facing the threat of eviction because I breastfeed my daughter. (Some of this may seem irrelevant but its not.) We rent a duplex, and when we came home from the grocery store to find that all of my plants in my garden, including my tomatoes that were in tomato cages that had just started to get flowers on them, were cut down by a weedeater. I went into the property managers office to file a complaint. The manager said he wasn’t sure who had done our yard today. I told him he needed to find out so that I could file a complaint. His response was your tomato plants are the least of your worries, all of the neighbors have been complaining about you breastfeeding on your porch without a cover, and one of them has informed me that the next time they see you nursing outside that they will call the cops, and that he would have to file an eviction. I told the property manager to tell them to go ahead and call the cops I know the laws that protect my right to breastfeed where ever I am legally allowed to be, and since we pay rent to live here I am legally allowed to be on my front porch and in my yard. His response was that I cant legally nurse without a cover, which the law does not state that a mother must use a cover. I came home and told my husband what happened and then I called the non emergency number for the police. The woman I spoke to said that there was nothing I could do, that if my daughter refuses to nurse with a cover, that I should either stop breastfeeding or only do it in my home. 

My husband called the manager and the story keeps on changing as to why we are being threatened of eviction.
First it was that I breastfeed outside and its offending the neighbors.
Then it was that if the cops are called it is breaking the lease by causing unnecessary drama (nowhere in the lease does it state anything about breastfeeding, nor does it state we can be evicted because someone calls the cops about something that isnt illegal, It only states that we have to have noise levels down after 10pm.) 

Then they said the problem has nothing to do with me breastfeeding, that it is about the complaints. I had my husband reiterate that the complaints are about me breastfeeding so it still is about me breastfeeding. 

Now they are claiming that my breastfeeding is child endangerment. That by me breastfeeding outside of my home I am putting my daughter in danger because a “pervert” might see her nursing. So the reason we are being threatened of eviction, if we get another complaint is child endangerment, by means of breastfeeding without a cover.”

The law states ”Breast-feeding shall not constitute a violation of any provision of Title 21 of the Oklahoma Statutes.” Title 21 of the Oklahoma statutes include public disturbance and public indecency. The breastfeeding law specifically states breastfeeding mothers are not violating any criminal laws.

Clearly, the police officer the mother spoke to needs to be educated on the law, read about the health recommendations regarding breastfeeding on the Oklahoma State Health Department’s website, and anyone complaining about the mother needs some education as well.

How can you help?

A nurse-in is planned for 9:00am on Sunday, May 24th in Oklahoma (221 SE 55th St OKC, OK 73129) to support the mother and all breastfeeding families. Join and share the Facebook event page.

Please contact representative William Fourkiller about House Bill 2212. If it passes, it will make it a misdemeanor to harass nursing moms.

Take a stand

It’s up to everyone to help stop the mistreatment of women and children. If you see a woman breastfeeding in public, give her a thumbs up. If you see someone shaming a breastfeeding mom, making fun of her, asking her to cover up, move, or stop, stand up for what’s right and talk to them. Be respectful but honest. It’s not okay to harass moms for taking care of their children. It’s time to stand up for women, babies, our future.

How does this flagrant mistreatment of a mother and child make you feel? 

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

**Update 5.19.2015**

Missy contacted me this morning to let me know the property manager has now apologized and said he will not move forward with an eviction after reading about the breastfeeding laws. The property manager said he will ignore the complaints from other tenants.

I asked Missy how she feels now and if the nurse-in is still on. She said, “Yes the nurse in is still on! I’m feeling much better, but still angry at the neighbors and the police.”

Understandably. It’s a shame the police officer didn’t stand up for what was right or know the law and that there are people harassing Missy for being a good mom, feeding her baby what’s recommend, when there are malnourished children out there.



Midwives in California under attack: Rally to attend Midwife Yelena Kolodji’s hearing at the SF courthouse Friday

[Homebirth Certified Nurse Midwife Yelena Kolodji. Source]

Bay Area locals: Have you heard about the rally to attend the hearing in San Francisco on Friday of Yelena Kolodji, a midwife that has attended over 1500 homebirths? Yelena is being taken to court for being a CNM practicing in the home setting without the evidence of a single supervising physician.

Details on the event from the Facebook event page:

“We will gather at noon outside the courthouse (San Francisco Superior Court, 400 McAllister St, San Francisco, California 94102) to lovingly show support for Yelena and all midwives and then make our way into the courthouse to get good seats in the hearing room. Please wear purple and dress professionally. The hearing is at 1:30 in room # 306 with Judge Richard B. Ulmer, Jr. 

*Attention* The courtroom may change if there is a large turnout!

We need a packed courtroom full of respectful midwives, doulas, parents, and especially children. We need full halls and a full street to make an impact. Yelena is being prosecuted for practicing homebirth midwifery as a certified nurse midwife without physician supervision. This supervision is currently not given by any doctor in the state. Current legislation is making it’s way through the California senate to change this. In the meantime, let’s show support. Political decisions should not determine what we do with our bodies. We need to fight for our right to choose the maternity care we want! Please spread the news!! We would love to have news reporters attend as well. If you have contacts with any TV or raido stations or newspapers, please let us know! Thank you. #BirthKeeper

Parking: There are plenty of paid lots in the area, good bus service, and a Bart station about 5 blocks from Van Ness.”

It’s about fighting for and defending our rights to our health choices regarding the birth of our children, and all birthkeepers, the craft of midwifery itself.

Please spread the word about this event.

‪#‎KeepOurMidwivesFree‬ ‪#‎BirthKeeper‬

Read more about it at Stand by your midwife.

Did you have a midwife? Can you make it to this event?

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




Brelfie of the day: Breastfeeding in a restaurant

I went to a friend’s graduation party at a restaurant in Oakland this evening. Here I am, breastfeeding while babywearing.

Gone are the days where I used to run off to the bathroom or my car to nurse. Restaurants are for eating in, right? That includes nurslings. Breastfeed with pride, mamas!

Where did you NIP today?

Join the conversation on TwitterFacebook, or comment below.



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Monday Ramble

[Loving on my kids this morning. They are 5.5, 3.5, and 15 months.]

I am having another one of those blissful moments in life where my heart feels so full and I feel so blessed. My children are singing upstairs together. Food is baking in the oven. My feet are up. The chickens are pecking around in the yard between the tall grass and wildflowers. I’m flying home to see my family and a dear friend tomorrow. I feel healthy, happy, and strong. I have a beautiful life.

Sure, I’ve had my fair share of hardships and loss during my thirty years, but I’m committed to living in the moment and living my life how I want to. I’m happily married and have three adventurous, free spirited children that laugh into the wind. Thinking back to my life right before I became pregnant, I was worried about my ability to have children after some precancerous cells were found in my uterus. But I was able to have children, even though I kept having abnormal pap smears for a couple years. After I had my first child, I thought I had to go back to work to afford living in the San Francisco Bay Area and to pay for all the things that come with children – birth costs, diapers, food, clothes, etc. But we figured out how to make sacrifices and scrape by on one income the last six years. We were able to have a couple more children at home and we now make sure they always have good, whole food in our kitchen to eat when they’re hungry, and have had a stable home life.

How did my husband and I make it work?

The short answer is through sheer will, working together, and with the help of others when it is given. I went through my first and second pregnancies with a best girlfriend. We went to prenatal yoga together and watched our bellies expand. It was a priceless experience. My friend and my husband certainly helped me get through the loss of my parents but after she went back to work and our schedules stopped lining up, I felt isolated. Of course my husband was still there for me at night but he’s not a mama friend! My other local friends were on different life paths so I put my usually shy self out there and made new friends and found new play mates for my kids. Now I get that in-person, woman-to-woman support every week that I need to feel sane and the gentle parenting group helps keep me on track.

My children are healthy, happy, and loved. They are clothed – often with hand me downs from cousins or friends, and we only drove 10 year or older cars until just this year when my old Volvo wasn’t reliable any more. I had anxiety about making the payments on a new car and still being able to feed my children but my husband works very hard to shoulder that burden. I grew up quite differently. My mother was the income earner while my father took care of us. And we didn’t homeschool; I went to public school. Perhaps it was for the best, although I now wish I had learned more from my parents while they were alive. Home life wasn’t very stable. I won’t get into it but we lived below the poverty line and there was violence, alcoholism, and drug use in the house. Let’s just say I didn’t grow up thinking I wanted to be a parent or idealize mothers.

But when I became a parent myself in 2009, something just clicked. I knew that raising and loving my child was the best thing I could do for her and myself. It was a rather difficult mental transition to appreciate myself as a mother, not contributing by earning an income, and having this new person to navigate the world with. But I went for it, as we all do. I decided to learn from my childhood and do what I could to give my children more of myself, emotionally, and with presence. I am thankful I am able to keep my kids home with each other, out of early start programs, letting them learn through play, family, and nature instead of being stuck inside, learning from strangers and books.

Sometimes I remember being a stay-at-home mother and keeping children out of daycare is not always appreciated in our society. When I was a brand new mother, my eyes were suddenly opened to my new role and the realities that stay-at-home moms face. On one hand, there was some community support, kind words and actions here and there as I was totting around my first baby from those that had been in my shoes. But I also felt an underlying negativity, a harshness I wasn’t expecting. I was aware that strangers were now labeling me as an “unambitious breeder” or somehow less intelligent because I chose to have a child and stay home with her. Sometimes I could tell people considered my child an inconvenience just by existing and would rather not deal with a child in “their” space.

Years later, I have hardened myself to these judgments and only allow positive people in my life. If I feel like I am being judged, I shrug it off. I am proud of my choices, how I have had to work for what I have in my life and I’m incredibly grateful.

Live the life you want to. No regrets. We only get one shot.


YMCA in Grand Rapids, Michigan reported for breastfeeding harassment, apology made to the mother

A YMCA in Grand Rapids, Michigan has been reported for harassing a breastfeeding mom and child at their facility.

This was the report by the mother, Emily Walcott:

This is just one of dozens of reported incidents reported in recent years. In the latest incident, employees of the Marion, Ohio YMCA asked a breastfeeding mother to be “considerate” of teen lifeguards, suggested she cover or move, and an employee tweeted about how she “refused to stop or cover up.”

2014 Mich. Pub. Acts, Act 197 prohibits discriminatory practices, policies, and customs in the exercise of the right to breastfeed and provides for enforcement of the right to breastfeed.

Thankfully, this location stepped up to support breastfeeding and train staff,


YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids wrote on May 13: “As an Association that promotes health and well-being the YMCA of Greater Grand Rapids supports the decision of mothers to breast feed their child in locations in our facilities in which they feel comfortable.

We continue to educate our staff members about this commitment.”

They continued, “We’ve addressed this specifically with all parties and remain committed to supporting the decision of mothers to breastfeed wherever comfortable in our facilities.”

But incidents keep being reported across the U.S. This policy of theirs seems to be the cause and it should be amended, especially since their healthy eating strategy #16 states everyone should support breastfeeding for a healthier community, and the law sides with families. Their company motto is “We’re for youth development, healthy living and social responsibility.” It’s time they start following it.

This is the 40th YMCA incident reported in the last decade. That means dozens of locations that we know of have allowed their employees to break the law, bully and harass moms and children. What is the real number of women and children that have been asked to cover, move, or leave – the ones that didn’t speak up? When are these YMCA incidents going to stop?

How can you help?

First, contact your state rep and ask for an enforcement provision. Then respectfully contact YMCA and ask what their breastfeeding policy is and how they plan to help keep this from happening again. Ask that they remind all of their gyms how to appropriately respond to breastfeeding families, never tweet disparaging comments about members on social media, and place a “Breastfeeding is Welcome Here” sticker or international breastfeeding symbol in all of their gyms.

Contact corporate headquarters:

Placing the international breastfeeding logo in all YMCA locations nationwide, just as Barnes & Noble did earlier this year, would only take a little bit of their time and money but think of what a positive message they could send to all of their customers and employees in communities around the nation! I am certain mothers would appreciate the support, in turn helping raise the breastfeeding rates, and others would be reminded to follow the law.

How does this flagrant repetitive mistreatment of mothers and children at the Y make you feel? How would you like to see YMCA respond? 

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

If you experienced discrimination while breastfeeding at a pool or YMCA, please fill out this survey at Survey Monkey.



Cracker Barrel employees tell breastfeeding mother to cover up

A Midland mother breastfeeding her baby at the Cracker Barrel in Midland, Texas when a waitress approached her, saying she had multiple complaints and told the mom she needed to cover up.

What’s the breastfeeding law in Texas?

Tex. Health Code Ann. § 165.002 (1995) authorizes a woman to breastfeed her child in any location.

CBS7 News / KOSA-TV shared this photo yesterday and in a day, it’s been shared nearly six thousand times with hundreds of positive, supportive comments for the mother.

I will add more details on this story after I receive them. I was not able to locate a public apology on the offending location’s Facebook page or corporate’s page or on their Twitter account.

How can you help?

Because there is not an enforcement provision in Texas, people cannot be held accountable for their actions against women and children. Call Texas senators to help pass breastfeeding bills to protect breastfeeding families. Read the Call to Action. If you’re outside of Texas, check to see if your state has an enforcement provision and if not, ask for one.

Call Cracker Barrel corporate, (800) 333-9566, or the store, (432) 689-3137, to respectfully let them know how this incident makes you feel and how they can show their support for families in their community.
Email corporate.
Write on their Facebook page
Tweet @CrackerBarrel


Take a stand

It’s up to everyone to help stop the mistreatment of women and children. If you see a woman breastfeeding in public, give her a thumbs up. If you see someone shaming a breastfeeding mom, making fun of her, asking her to cover up, move, or stop, stand up for what’s right and talk to them. Be respectful but honest. It’s not okay to harass moms for taking care of their children. It’s time to stand up for women, babies, our future.

How does this incident make you feel? Have you ever breastfed at a Cracker Barrel? 

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



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