This past Saturday, September 29th, 2012, sit-ins by nursing mothers were held all over the US in response to a September 15th incident at an Applebee’s in Covington, Georgia. Dawn Holland was breastfeeding her 20-month-old son at a table in the restaurant when a manager asked her to leave and go nurse in the bathroom. When she refused, the manager called the police. Applebee’s has since apologized.
Forty-five states, including Georgia, protect a woman’s right to breastfeed in public. Only 11 of these states, however, have an enforcement clause. What this means is that even in states with laws protecting breastfeeding, a woman has no legal recourse if she is harassed.
This is the second high-profile nursing in public incident in an Applebee’s; the last one five years ago. Last December, a nurse-in was held at a Houston area Target in response to Michelle Hickman being asked to breastfeed in the dressing room there.
Though these incidents appear to be infrequent, the advocacy group, Best of Babes, recieves a report every other day from a distressed breastfeeding mother who has been harassed on the bus, at the airport, at a fitness club, at school. Lori Painter, for example, was breastfeeding her 13-month-old inside the daycare of Blast Fitness in Webster, Texas when she was told to go nurse in the bathroom.
Demonstrations were held at Applebee’s at over the US, including in Richmond, VA, at six locations in the Phoenix area; in the San Francisco Bay Area, Reno, Burlington, WA, Yucca Valley, CA, Clarksville, TN, Auburn, AL, Denver, CO, Gilbert, AZ, Jacksonville, FL, Pasadena, TX, Greenville, SC, Fuquay, NC, Austin, TX, Las Vegas, NV, Valrico, FL, Sierra Vista, AZ, San Dimas, CA, Kennesaw, GA, Burlington, WA, Wilkesbarre, PA, Turlock, CA, Spokane, WA, and Covington, GA.
Best for Babes is calling for Applebee’s [and other companies] to adopt a “model corporate policy and employee toolkit” to support and protect breastfeeding customers.