Bethany Morton says Old Country Buffet booted her for breastfeeding
Most restaurants don't offer naked sushi, but that doesn't mean that diners might not encounter a bare breast from time to time.
State statute 145.905 authorizes mothers to breast feed in public. It reads: "A mother may breast-feed in any location, public or private, where the mother and child are otherwise authorized to be, irrespective of whether the nipple of the mother's breast is uncovered during or incidental to the breast-feeding."
Bethany Morton, 24, of St. Paul, says her right not to have to hide her hooters while breastfeeding was infringed upon as she dined at Old Country Buffet in Maplewood last Sunday. The Pi Press reports:
She said she tried to be discreet, pulling down one side of her low-cut blouse and shifting in her booth to face away from the rest of the restaurant. She tried using a blanket to cover her son's head for privacy, but he wiggled it off.
Soon, a server came by and told Morton to cover her son and breast with the blanket, Morton said. She said no.The server retrieved a manager, who told her to cover up or leave. Morton refused. "They can ask me, but I don't have to comply," she said.
The manager left. When he returned, he told the family to leave, Morton said. Morton's fiance, Joe Santos, 37, told the manager they weren't leaving, she said. "We were not being rude. We weren't yelling. We didn't raise our voices," Morton said. "My fiance has a loud voice in general, but we weren't yelling."
The manager eventually gave the family a refund and told them to go "because we were being rude and noncompliant," Morton recalled him saying.
A spokesperson for OCB's parent company, Eagan-based Buffets Inc., said that the breastfeeding wasn't the issue:
"The couple in question was asked to leave the restaurant because the man became verbally aggressive -- NOT because his fiancée was breastfeeding," wrote Diana Postemsky in a prepared statement for the restaurant chain. "Rather, the man's volume and use of profanity was disturbing our other guests."
This isn't the first time Morton has been asked to cover up when publicly feeding:
Morton had a refresher on the state law just days before the Old Country Buffet incident, she said, when a St. Paul Parks and Recreation employee had asked her to "cover up or move behind a curtain" as she fed Dawson at a concert Friday at the North Dale Recreation Center. Morton refused and continued feeding Dawson.
Apparently Morton is considering organizing a "nurse-in" at the Maplewood Old Country Buffet (if this happens, rest assured all local media will dispatch photographers). What do you think about the appropriateness of breastfeeding at restaurants? Is this a right you would choose to exercise? (Also, check out the strange photograph in the Pi Press story--at first I thought Bethany and son were sitting near a mirror, but they're actually sitting near a photo of themselves in a similar pose...)
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