NORWICH, Conn. — A young mother is standing her legal ground when it comes to breastfeeding in public, especially after management at a local restaurant told her to “cover up.”
“I was offended,” said Tabitha Donohue, a new mother who said management at Friendly’s, a popular restaurant in Norwich, asked her if she thought she was offending anyone. She answered, “No, I don’t care if I’m offending other people, I’m feeding my baby.”
Donohue said employees at the restaurant asked her to stop publicly feeding her 8-week-old baby girl, and they didn’t walk away until the baby stopped eating. While she wasn’t asked to leave, she was asked to stop feeding the baby, or to hide it.
“I legally don’t have to do either of those things,” Donohue said.
According to Connecticut State Law 46A-64, mothers are allowed to breastfeed their babies in places of public accommodation. The owner, manager or employee of a place of public accommodation cannot request that the mother stop breastfeeding her baby, cover up, move to a different room or area, or leave.
According to a statement from Friendly’s, the restaurant said it is a family restaurant and welcomes breastfeeding mothers in its establishments.
The statement said Donohue’s child was laying on the dining table at Friendly’s while she was breastfeeding, and the manager, who is also a mother, approached Donohue to see if there was a better option to accommodate them “as well as other guests dining in the restaurant, who had brought this to the staff’s attention.”
“Our manager did not think it was appropriate or safe to have the child lying on the table,” the statement said in part.
According to Donohue and former restaurant patron Amber Pendleton, the issue made its way to social media.
“A friend of mine saw comments on a Friendly employee’s post that were making fun of her (Donohue) breasts,” Pendleton said, adding that comments included “that was gross” and “they apparently were not only rubbernecking for food today, either.”
Pendleton said she hasn’t heard anything from Friendly’s after emailing the corporate office and completing a customer survey.
“Apparently they’re not interested about how people feel about this,” she said.