Walmart issued an apology after a North Carolina woman was told to breast-feed her newborn in the store's toilet stall.
Kelly Messing says she was using a cover inside the store’s bathroom in order to feed her two-week old baby. An employee told her she was making other customers uncomfortable and to nurse inside a bathroom stall.
Offended mothers brought attention to the incident on Sunday when more than a dozen women showed up to the Jacksonville Walmart for a “nurse-in” at the store.
Tori Sproat, the education and outreach coordinator for Best for Babes Foundation, called the incident a new low in nursing harassment.
"I can relate to how this mother felt by hiding in the bathroom because society looks upon it as though we're doing something wrong or disgusting. And there's not. We're feeding our children and there's nothing wrong with that,” mother Heather Spada told WNCT.
"She was in the restroom, with a cover, was accosted by an employee that said other customers were uncomfortable,” Sproat said. “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.”
Under a general statute in North Carolina, mothers are allowed to breast-feed in any public or private location where she is otherwise allowed to be – with or without a cover.
Walmart spokesperson Kayla Whaling says the employee acted illegally and against their company policy. She says Walmart supports public breast-feeding.
"This store did not follow our policy in this situation and we absolutely apologize to our customer for her experience,” Whaling said.
"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,” she added.
Another nurse-in was held at a Walmart in South Carolina earlier this month after Shawnee Colabella said she was nursing her 4-month old son while she was covered up in the store, when several employees made statements that made her uncomfortable.
Image credit: Joey Caputo/Wikimedia, BestForBabes.org