Problem NIP at Barnes & Noble Albany, NY - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 43 Old 07-08-2010, 09:46 PM - Thread Starter
 
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So, we are having a major heat wave on the East Coast. Today, to beat the heat and do a little shopping, we went to the Barnes and Noble at our local mall -- usually a pleasant location.

My 3.5 month old was hot, hungry, and cranky so we sat down to nurse before I started shopping. We met another mom there and had a great conversation at the Barnes and Noble Starbucks, and were just about to finish up nursing when the assistant store manager approached me.

She said she had received multiple customer complaints and asked if there was somewhere else she could "take me" "for that." She awkwardly avoided saying nursing or breastfeeding in all of this, and sort of nodded and gestured in the direction of the baby on the breast, as if it were too disgusting to even mention.

Calmly, I told her that she needed to familiarize herself with section 79-E of NYS Civil Rights Law, and explained to her that anywhere a woman has a right to be she has a right to nurse.

She said she wasn't asking me to leave, just could she find someplace else for me, or could I cover up.

Again, I said that asking me to do so was violating my civil rights and opening up the company to a lawsuit.

She then left.

Granted, my response could be construed as somewhat snotty(ish), but I was nice, calm, and straight to the point. I also feel that those of us who are more brazen & outspoken help make things better for the meeker among us by BF anywhere we need to and defending our right to do so.

Ironically, this is the same store where I was sitting 2 weeks ago (also nursing) listening to a group making wildly anti-semitic comments without any reproach by management! What is more offensive, religious intolerance or eating?

We got home too late to call B&N to complain and will do so tomorrow AM.
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#2 of 43 Old 07-08-2010, 09:59 PM
 
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good for you! you were ready with the facts! i bet she didn't know what to do!

a friend of mine had a similar experience in a restaurant. in response to the 'others have complained' comment, she replied 'I completely understand. In this wonderful country someone has every right to be offended at the sight of another breastfeeding. However, their right to be offended does not supercede my right to breastfeed my child. You can tell whoever complained that she will not nurse forever, and when she's done, they won't have to see me nursing." she's a LLL leader now.

i always wonder what i would say or do. i'm sure i'd get all flustered and not be able to get a coherent sentence out.

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#3 of 43 Old 07-09-2010, 10:47 AM
 
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Perhaps you should go talk to the manager with one of those BF window clings and a copy of the law.

I used to nurse my toddlers in B&N (TX) without a problem.

"It should be a rule in all prophylactic work that no harm should ever be unnecessarily inflicted on a healthy person (Sir Graham Wilson, The Hazards of Immunization, 1967)."
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#4 of 43 Old 07-09-2010, 10:50 AM
 
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i always wonder what i would say or do. i'm sure i'd get all flustered and not be able to get a coherent sentence out.
You could laminate that comment and keep it in your bag--read it to yourself whenever you NIP.

"It should be a rule in all prophylactic work that no harm should ever be unnecessarily inflicted on a healthy person (Sir Graham Wilson, The Hazards of Immunization, 1967)."
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#5 of 43 Old 07-15-2010, 04:00 AM
 
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I used to work in a B&N for too many years, and have openly nursed there and in others. I know for a fact that the managers in my store were not this ignorant. Anyhoo-- if you feel up to it, complain to the manager, and ask for the number to the district manager. That asst manager needs to be put in her place!

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#6 of 43 Old 07-15-2010, 09:46 AM
 
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Granted, my response could be construed as somewhat snotty(ish),...
I think your response could be construed as somewhat awesome(ish)!

Good for you! Please let us know what you hear.
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#7 of 43 Old 07-16-2010, 04:12 AM
 
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I think your response could be construed as somewhat awesome(ish)!



YES!

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#8 of 43 Old 07-16-2010, 04:22 AM
 
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While we're on this topic. I went to babies r us just few weeks ago and I saw a room for mothers to nurse in but I was wondering to myself "but what if I want to nurse while shopping/browsing, will I be asked to use that room?" I mean, I know I'll get so bored sitting in that nursing room breastfeeding and I'd rather to be browsing while keeping myself busy.

I live in Virginia and I wonder about the breastfeeding in public places laws in VA. Edited to add: I just looked up and I am happy with VA's breastfeeding laws.

For others benefit: (updated March 2010) http://www.ncsl.org/default.aspx?tabid=14389#v

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#9 of 43 Old 07-16-2010, 04:35 PM
 
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Good response. I haven't even had my little one yet, due any day now, and I already have little cards printed off.

I have no idea what the asst. manger thought personally, her behavior was wrong.

For years I worked in restaurants, and have had people complain about a NIP mom. I told the complaining customer that she was well within her rights to NIP, and that, no I would not say anything to her. Some of them would get pissed; complaining to my manager about me or going up to the mother herself (at that point I would follow and state that we don't allow customers to harass other customers). The stories I could tell about horrible behavior; one elderly lady actually said, "that baby should be fed from bottle, proper and decent," as if there was something obscene about feeding your child as was biologically intended.

She should NOT have said anything (and should have stood up for you), but I sympathize with having to deal with people complain about something that A) is none of their business, B) is perfectly acceptable behavior, and C) expecting you to DO something about it.

I agree that stores should hang the BF/NIP signs in their windows. It would make things easier for the mothers and the employees.
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#10 of 43 Old 07-22-2010, 03:37 PM
 
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I love the little room at Babys R Us! My boys get so cranky when we're out and I can only nurse one at a time - I only do that when hubby's around to hold the other. So it's nice to have a dedicated room that's comfortable and secluded for me to tandem. I understand I have every right to do that in public, too, but I just can't bring myself to be able to.

Anyhow, WOO! Thanks for standing up so forcefully on the subject. I surely would've just gotten flustered!!

Mama to twin boys, Oct-'09 and baby girl, Apri-'12!

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#11 of 43 Old 07-30-2010, 01:58 PM
 
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Vegankelly, any updates? Did you complain and get any response? I'm in Albany, too, and would love to hear if I should keep shopping at that store or not!

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#12 of 43 Old 07-30-2010, 08:28 PM
 
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Vegankelly, any updates? Did you complain and get any response? I'm in Albany, too, and would love to hear if I should keep shopping at that store or not!
Ditto!

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#13 of 43 Old 07-31-2010, 04:21 AM
 
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You could laminate that comment and keep it in your bag--read it to yourself whenever you NIP.
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#14 of 43 Old 07-31-2010, 04:17 PM
 
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While we're on this topic. I went to babies r us just few weeks ago and I saw a room for mothers to nurse in but I was wondering to myself "but what if I want to nurse while shopping/browsing, will I be asked to use that room?" I mean, I know I'll get so bored sitting in that nursing room breastfeeding and I'd rather to be browsing while keeping myself busy.

I live in Virginia and I wonder about the breastfeeding in public places laws in VA. Edited to add: I just looked up and I am happy with VA's breastfeeding laws.

For others benefit: (updated March 2010) http://www.ncsl.org/default.aspx?tabid=14389#v
Virginia law provides no protection for breastfeeding in stores. It only covers state-owned property.

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#15 of 43 Old 08-01-2010, 04:51 PM
 
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Virginia law clarifies that breastfeeding is not indecent exposure, whether you are on public property or not. By default, you have a right to breastfeed everywhere you go. You don't need a law clarifying that right.

To the OP: Your response was perfect. I admire your ability to keep your cool and say all of that. I used to live in the Albany area (I still live in upstate NY). Let me know if you want to hold a nurse-in, because I might be able to get some of my old friends to go to it.

-Alice, SAHM to dd (2001) and ds (2004) each of whom was a homebirth.jpg, who each self-weaned at 4.5 years bfolderchild.gif, who both fambedsingle2.gif'd, who were bothcd.gif, and both: novaxnocirc.gif.   Also, gd.gif, and goorganic.jpg!

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#16 of 43 Old 08-01-2010, 07:05 PM
 
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Virginia law clarifies that breastfeeding is not indecent exposure, whether you are on public property or not. By default, you have a right to breastfeed everywhere you go. You don't need a law clarifying that right.
Beg to differ, @Sustainer. Under Virginia law, breastfeeding is not illegal as indecent exposure. That does not mean it would not violate some other law or that one might not be violating the law by breastfeeding in a shopping mall. The most common scenario being when a breastfeeding woman in a mall is asked to leave, she refuses and can then be charged with trespass.

There is a difference between something being legal and something being a right. Breastfeeding on non-state property may or may not be legal however it is under current Virginia law not a right.

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#17 of 43 Old 08-01-2010, 09:48 PM
 
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That does not mean it would not violate some other law or that one might not be violating the law by breastfeeding in a shopping mall. The most common scenario being when a breastfeeding woman in a mall is asked to leave, she refuses and can then be charged with trespass.

There is a difference between something being legal and something being a right. Breastfeeding on non-state property may or may not be legal however it is under current Virginia law not a right.
People have the right to breastfeed wherever they go. I don't need a law telling me that any more than I need a law telling me I have the right to breathe in any store I go in. A store owner does not have a legal right to ask me to leave for breastfeeding any more than they have a right to ask me to leave for having blue eyes or for having the last name that I have.

"Mothers have a right to breastfeed where they go with their baby, even if that is out in public. It does not matter whether the mother goes to a public or a private place, or even whether they are in a state with legislation. No one has the right to tell a mother how to feed her baby, especially a way that increases the risk of illness to both mother and baby! Legislation has been enacted in nearly one-half of the states in the U.S. because they want to clarify this right, and in some cases, provide a remedy for mothers told to stop breastfeeding. It is hoped that legislation will help to change society's attitudes that breastfeeding is something indecent and should not be done in public. Underlying this, is the goal to increase the rates and duration of breastfeeding recognizing that this is an important health choice that must be encouraged."

I got that from the LLL website.

-Alice, SAHM to dd (2001) and ds (2004) each of whom was a homebirth.jpg, who each self-weaned at 4.5 years bfolderchild.gif, who both fambedsingle2.gif'd, who were bothcd.gif, and both: novaxnocirc.gif.   Also, gd.gif, and goorganic.jpg!

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#18 of 43 Old 08-02-2010, 09:05 AM
 
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Perhaps http://mothering.com/breastfeeding/lactation-and-law will help explain my point. In fact store owners *do* have the right to to have you removed for having blue eyes or a certain last name. You do not have the *legal* right to breastfeed anywhere.

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People have the right to breastfeed wherever they go. I don't need a law telling me that any more than I need a law telling me I have the right to breathe in any store I go in. A store owner does not have a legal right to ask me to leave for breastfeeding any more than they have a right to ask me to leave for having blue eyes or for having the last name that I have.

"Mothers have a right to breastfeed where they go with their baby, even if that is out in public. It does not matter whether the mother goes to a public or a private place, or even whether they are in a state with legislation. No one has the right to tell a mother how to feed her baby, especially a way that increases the risk of illness to both mother and baby! Legislation has been enacted in nearly one-half of the states in the U.S. because they want to clarify this right, and in some cases, provide a remedy for mothers told to stop breastfeeding. It is hoped that legislation will help to change society's attitudes that breastfeeding is something indecent and should not be done in public. Underlying this, is the goal to increase the rates and duration of breastfeeding recognizing that this is an important health choice that must be encouraged."

I got that from the LLL website.

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#19 of 43 Old 08-02-2010, 02:46 PM
 
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In fact store owners *do* have the right to to have you removed for having blue eyes or a certain last name.
I would be interested in seeing a Supreme Court decision that says so, that didn't later get nullified.

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#20 of 43 Old 08-02-2010, 03:13 PM
 
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B&N is one of my fav. places to nurse; DS1 can play with the Thomas table and stay occupied.

Last time I was at BRU I sat in the comfy display rocking chairs. I saw a Mom almost running to the nursing room with a crying baby and wanted to invite her to sit with me. I would be bored in a nursing room. One of the best parts of NIP is it gives me an excuse to people watch.

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#21 of 43 Old 08-02-2010, 04:45 PM
 
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I would be interested in seeing a Supreme Court decision that says so, that didn't later get nullified.
No case would get to the Supreme Court. There is no legal basis for protection against discrimination unless one falls into a specifically protected class. Blue eyes isn't a protected class. There are very few protected classes.

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#22 of 43 Old 08-03-2010, 01:29 AM
 
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No case would get to the Supreme Court. There is no legal basis for protection against discrimination unless one falls into a specifically protected class. Blue eyes isn't a protected class. There are very few protected classes.
Being Canadian I'm not familiar with the ins and outs of American law...but to me this seems to be a case of discrimination. Under our Charter of Rights and Freedoms, it is discrimination based on gender because only women are able to breastfeed. Would there not be a similar umbrella protection under American law?
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#23 of 43 Old 08-03-2010, 03:32 AM
 
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No case would get to the Supreme Court.
If there hasn't been a Supreme Court decision declaring that store owners have the right to remove people for reasons such as the color of their eyes or the sound of their last name, then by default people have the right to have access to places of public accommodation without being harassed by the proprietor simply for being blue eyed or simply for being a mother who takes proper care of her children.

Swan3, yes, since breastfeeding is something women do, then breastfeeding discrimination definitely qualifies as sex discrimination.

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#24 of 43 Old 08-03-2010, 12:18 PM
 
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Being Canadian I'm not familiar with the ins and outs of American law...but to me this seems to be a case of discrimination. Under our Charter of Rights and Freedoms, it is discrimination based on gender because only women are able to breastfeed. Would there not be a similar umbrella protection under American law?
Whether breastfeeding discrimination is sex discrimination is still an open question under U.S. law. Currently federal case law holds that breastfeeding discrimination is *not* sex discrimination. However, more importantly, one must remember that sex discrimination in public accommodations is *not* prohibited by federal law. Some states prohibit sex discrimination in public accommodations under state law but it is *not* prohibited by federal law in the U.S.

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#25 of 43 Old 08-03-2010, 12:20 PM
 
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If there hasn't been a Supreme Court decision declaring that store owners have the right to remove people for reasons such as the color of their eyes or the sound of their last name, then by default people have the right to have access to places of public accommodation without being harassed by the proprietor simply for being blue eyed or simply for being a mother who takes proper care of her children.

Swan3, yes, since breastfeeding is something women do, then breastfeeding discrimination definitely qualifies as sex discrimination.
No @Sustainer, this is not the way U.S. law works.

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#26 of 43 Old 08-03-2010, 12:43 PM
 
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I am memorizing the NJ law as we speak

The following link states laws:

http://www.ncsl.org/default.aspx?tabid=14389
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#27 of 43 Old 08-03-2010, 12:54 PM
 
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I am memorizing the NJ law as we speak

The following link states laws:

http://www.ncsl.org/default.aspx?tabid=14389
NJ has a good one.

This http://www.mothering.com/sites/resources/laws.pdf is a better source for what the laws actually do, if I say so myself. The NCSL site is not as exact in its characterization and the links often go only to the state legislative home page.

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#28 of 43 Old 08-03-2010, 01:17 PM
 
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No @Sustainer, this is not the way U.S. law works.
It's a common misconception that the only legal rights people have are those that have specifically been given to them by the government. The fact is that legal rights exist by default until they are made illegal by the government. By default, I have a right to breathe. There is no law saying I do. The 9th and 10th Amendments clarify this legal principle:

9 The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

10 The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.

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#29 of 43 Old 08-03-2010, 01:46 PM
 
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It's a common misconception that the only legal rights people have are those that have specifically been given to them by the government. The fact is that legal rights exist by default until they are made illegal by the government. By default, I have a right to breathe. There is no law saying I do. The 9th and 10th Amendments clarify this legal principle:

9 The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

10 The powers not delegated to the United States by the Constitution, nor prohibited by it to the States, are reserved to the States respectively, or to the people.
Law school cured me of "common misconceptions."

In the absence of other law, you have the "right" to breathe. And in the absence of other law, other people have the "right" to deprive you of the oxygen all around you. In the absence of other law, others may blow smoke in your face and park their cars wherever you are enveloping you with car exhaust. What then happens to your "right" to breathe if you are effectively deprived of your *ability* to breathe?

Federal courts, interpreting federal law, have held that breastfeeding discrimination is *not* sex discrimination in the employment context - in which there is explicit federal protection against sex discrimination in the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Following those decisions (with which I disagree) a federal court (Ohio) has held that in states in which sex discrimination in public accommodations *is* prohibited, breastfeeding discrimination is *not* sex discrimination.

Citing to a plain reading of the Constitution at this point on this issue does not get you more than a theoretical right to breastfeed. As long as others have a legal right to deprive you of the ability to breastfeed in public, it is not helpful to maintain you have a legal right to breastfeed in public. Saying it will not make it so.

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#30 of 43 Old 08-03-2010, 02:36 PM
 
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Originally Posted by mamajake
In the absence of other law, you have the "right" to breathe. And in the absence of other law, other people have the "right" to deprive you of the oxygen all around you. In the absence of other law, others may blow smoke in your face
Actually, people do not have the right to deprive people of the oxygen all around them. This is what you've been taught in law school? Do you think that if I sucked all the oxygen out of the room you were in and you died of asphyxiation, I wouldn't be arrested? People do not have the right to blow smoke in my face. Depriving me of the oxygen all around me or blowing smoke in my face would violate my rights.

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Citing to a plain reading of the Constitution at this point on this issue does not get you more than a theoretical right to breastfeed.
The Constitution is not theoretical. It is the Supreme Law of the Land.

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As long as others have a legal right to deprive you of the ability to breastfeed in public
They don't.


Most states have now enacted legislation acknowledging the right to breastfeed. If store owners' rights superceded the mother's rights, a store owner could challenge the law in court and it would be overturned. That is not what the outcome of such a case would be. The legal truth is that, by default, the mother's right supercedes the store owner's right.

-Alice, SAHM to dd (2001) and ds (2004) each of whom was a homebirth.jpg, who each self-weaned at 4.5 years bfolderchild.gif, who both fambedsingle2.gif'd, who were bothcd.gif, and both: novaxnocirc.gif.   Also, gd.gif, and goorganic.jpg!

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