Up­set mom lawyers up, plans nat’l ‘Nurse In’

The Covington News - - Front page - AM­BER PITTMAN apittman@cov­news.com

The Dou­glasville woman who said she was asked to leave Ap­ple­bee’s for breast-feed­ing has hired an at­tor­ney to rep­re­sent her, and has started a Face­book page for sup­port­ers, call­ing for a Nurse-In at Ap­ple­bee’s restau­rants na­tion­wide Sept. 29.

Dawn Hol­land has ac­cused the res­tau­rant on U.S. High­way 278 of vi­o­lat­ing her civil rights when they re­port­edly asked her to leave be­cause she was breast-feed­ing her 20-month-old son, around 2:15 p.m. Satur­day.

She said she stopped in for a late lunch and asked to sit in the back be­cause she knew it was her son’s nap time and he would need to nurse. Hol­land ad­mit­ted that she was not cov­ered with any­thing, but said that her son would not al­low him­self to be cov­ered, and that he was big enough to keep her from be­ing ex­posed. She also said there were only about five cou­ples in the res­tau­rant at the time. It was then that Hol­land said the man­ager ap­proached her

and said she needed to ex­cuse her­self to the bath­room.

“I knew why,” Hol­land said. “And I told her I had a right to breast-feed in pub­lic and that a bath­room was not an ap­pro­pri­ate place to nurse my son. She said to ei­ther ex­cuse my­self to the bath­room or leave.”

Hol­land said she did not leave ini­tially, but told the man­ager she needed to look up the law.

“I told her that if she thought I was break­ing the law, she should call the po­lice, and she did.”

Hol­land said she called the po­lice as well, and spoke to them out­side of the res­tau­rant, a fact Cov­ing­ton po­lice Cap­tain Ken Mal­com con­firmed, though an in­ci­dent re­port was not made. Po­lice also spoke with the man­ager, who said she told Hol­land she could ei­ther cover up, go to the bath­room, or leave. Hol­land de- nies she was ever given the op­tion of cov­er­ing her­self while nurs­ing.

Al­though Ge­or­gia law says that a pri­vate busi­ness, even if open to the pub­lic, has a right to ask any­one to leave and they are re­quired to go or face charges of tres­pass­ing, breast-feed­ing is a pro­tected ac­tiv­ity in Ge­or­gia, and that trumps tres­pass­ing laws.

Ge­or­gia code states “the breast-feed­ing of a baby is an im­por­tant and ba­sic act of nur­ture which should be en­cour­aged in the in­ter­ests of ma­ter­nal and child health and al­lows a mother to breast­feed her baby in any lo­ca­tion where mother and baby are oth­er­wise au­tho­rized to be.”

Hol­land said her pe­di­a­tri­cian en­cour­aged her to breast-feed un­til the age of 2, and pointed out that in most coun­tries, moth­ers breast­feed un­til the age of 3 or older.

“It’s about a woman’s right to choose what is best for her child and not be hu­mil­i­ated in pub­lic for it. I was ex­tremely em­bar­rassed and hu­mil­i­ated. It has re­ally been quite an or­deal for me.”

Hol­land’s at­tor­ney Lau­rie Rashidi of the Rashidi Law Firm in Ma­ri­etta said that while they had not de­cided to sue the res­tau­rant chain, Hol­land was “con­sid­er­ing her op­tions.”

“Ap­ple­bee’s has not yet re­sponded with an apol­ogy… Al­though they have ad­dressed the me­dia, they have not made any di­rect com­mu­ni­ca­tion with us. I think right now, there are a lot of op­tions,” Rashidi said, adding that Hol­land’s civil rights had been vi­o­lated. “Even if you do have a con­cern, cer­tainly call­ing the po­lice shouldn’t be the first line of ac­tion.”

“There are a lot of women re­ally sup­port­ing this be­cause they feel like they have the right to make the choice about their chil­dren and their chil­dren’s nu­tri­tion,” Hol­land said. “My main goal is to raise aware­ness and ed­u­cate — not only busi­nesses, but the community in gen­eral. Breast-feed­ing is not dis­grace­ful and should not be con­sid­ered as such. You wouldn’t eat your lunch on a toi­let, why should you ex­pect a child to do the same?”

Hol­land cre­ated a Face­book page ear­lier this week and has used it to call other women to ac­tion for a nur­sein. A sched­uled ap­pear­ance on the Dr. Drew ear­lier this week was can­celed, and on the page, Hol­land ad­mits that Ap­ple­bee’s did try to contact her from a pri­vate num­ber, but that was af­ter her at­tor­ney had di­rected all contact with Hol­land come through her.

Ap­ple­bee’s is­sued a state­ment ear­lier, say­ing “We’re in the busi­ness of wel­com­ing guests to our restau­rants and our top pri­or­ity is al­ways to pro­vide a friendly and com­fort­able en­vi­ron­ment for ev­ery­one, in­clud­ing nurs­ing moth­ers who have the right to nurse in pub­lic. This was an un­for­tu­nate mis­un­der­stand­ing and we hope the guest will give us an­other chance to demon­strate that to her per­son­ally.”


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