Kelly Messing was breastfeeding her 2-week-old baby inside a Walmart store bathroom in North Carolina on July 25 when a female Walmart employee told her to breastfeed in a toilet stall.
Messing recalled the incident on Facebook:
Women and children walked in and out, about 5 minutes later an employee came in and asked me to "move it in a stall because I was making guests uncomfortable" and she stood there waiting for me to get up, so I had to sit in a stall feeding my baby.
"This store did not follow our policy in this situation and we absolutely apologize to our customer for her experience," Walmart spokeswoman Kayla Whaling told WBTW. "We're not sure exactly who did not follow our policy but we do not condone this and we have restated our policy to all associates at this retail store."
Tori Sproat, the education & outreach coordinator for the national breastfeeding group Best for Babes, was outraged: "She was in the restroom, with a cover, was accosted by an employee that said other customers were uncomfortable. That's pretty atrocious that as a society we are taking a woman who is already projecting to us that she's already uncomfortable, and then saying ‘Hey, let me make you more uncomfortable for feeding your child.’ [It’s] something that should just be normal and supported.”
A North Carolina law allows mothers to breastfeed in any public or private location, with or without a cover.
Messing posted another message on her Facebook page this morning:
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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!
While Messing's situation was rectified, pregnant female workers at Walmart have long-complained about their treatment by the company.
The Washington Post reported in March that Walmart changed its policy for pregnant workers, but used vague wording.
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Walmart's new policy said that pregnant women "may be eligible for reasonable accommodation" if they have a "temporary disability caused by pregnancy" and they "need assistance to apply for a new job, or to perform the essential functions of a job."
"Our concern is that the word 'disability' can be a tricky word," Emily Martin, of the National Women's Law Center, told The Washington Post. "It invites a lot of frankly ridiculous conversations about whether the medical accommodation you received is based on the pregnancy itself, or illnesses associated with the pregnancy."
Sources: The Washington Post, WBTW, Facebook (Image Credit: Benchapple)