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Family (Law) and Breastfeeding
June 19, 2013
My practice of family law has two components: First, representing clients in their divorce action and second, representing every member of my family who has a legal issue.
The latter pays a lot better than the former!
The most recent example of the former was my daughter, Betsy, who was told to stop breastfeeding her son in a public restaurant. My first reaction was that the restaurant had a right to tell her to go the bathroom. But, she told me there was a state law on the subject. Who knew? Well, she did. Here it is:
253.165. Right to breast-feed. A mother may breast-feed her child in any public or private location where the mother and child are otherwise authorized to be. In such a location, no person may prohibit a mother from breast-feeding her child, direct a mother to move to a different location to breast-feed her child, direct a mother to cover her child or breast while breast-feeding, or otherwise restrict a mother from breast-feeding her child as provided in this section.
That may very well be the broadest language I’ve ever seen in a statute.
So, the restaurant was clearly wrong.
Meanwhile, Betsy posted a message on their website and it went viral. The restaurant got pummeled by breast feeding moms from everywhere.
So, this afternoon, Betsy and I met with the owner of the restaurant and his attorney, Michael Maistelman. We reached the following agreement:
- The owner apologized to Betsy
- The owner will schedule a training session for his employees to ensure that they are aware of and will follow the statute in the future
- All future employees will be similarly trained.
- The restaurant will make a contribution to La Leche International in the amount they would otherwise have paid as a fine for violating the statute
- Betsy will post on Facebook that the matter was satisfactorily resolved and that nursing mothers are welcome there.
The following lessons can be derived from the experience:
- Running a restaurant, including making sure all employees are properly trained, is a difficult job
- The social media can be amazing at quickly publicizing a matter and getting people to pay attention.
- Lawyers don’t just fight – good lawyers resolve issues and can take a bad situation and turn it into a positive one
- Don’t mess with nursing mothers.