Mother Harassed for Breastfeeding in OC Store

An Orange County mom is asked to stop breastfeeding because store employees said she was making shoppers uncomfortable.

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    NEWSLETTERS

    An Orange County mom is asked to stop breastfeeding because store employees said she was making shoppers uncomfortable. (Published Friday, Aug 27, 2010)

    A Southern California mother is outraged she was asked to stop breastfeeding her baby in public.

    Rose Homme, a mother of two from Orange County, said the incident happened Friday at the Cost Plus World Market located at the Village at Orange.

    Mother Harassed for Breastfeeding in OC Store

    [LA] Mother Harassed for Breastfeeding in OC Store
    An Orange County mom is asked to stop breastfeeding because store employees said she was making shoppers uncomfortable. (Published Friday, Aug 27, 2010)

    She was there shopping with her mother and two children, a 3-year-old daughter and a 10-month-old son.
     
    "We had been shopping just a short time when my son Oliver became fussy because he was hungry and tired," said Homme. "I grabbed him from my mom and walked to the back of the store to see if there was a lactation room to feed him in, but there wasn't."
     
    Homme said she then cradled her baby boy and began breastfeeding him in the store. A few minutes later, a female employee approached her and asked her to stop.
     
    "She asked me to go feed my child in the bathroom because she said a customer was complaining," said Homme.
     
    Homme said she was stunned and she told the employee that she would not go to the bathroom with her baby.
     
    "She kept repeating, 'Out of respect for yourself and out of respect for other customers, please cover up,'" said Homme. "I know my rights as a breastfeeding mother and this request was ridiculous and against the law."
     
    That's when Homme said she lost her temper and demanded to speak to a manager.
     
    "She wouldn't let me talk to a manager, but she handed me a business card," said Homme. "A co-worker of hers also told her to call security."
     
    At that point, with her baby asleep in her arms, Homme said she left the store angry and offended. She drove home and she vented her frustration in a place where so many people do now days: Facebook.
     
    "I went home and put a post on my Facebook page," said Homme. "My midwife and doula got wind of what happened and spread the news through their huge communities of women."
     
    "This conduct is not only outrageous but also has huge legal ramifications," said Robin Sax, NBCLA's Legal Analyst. "In California under section 43.3 of the civil code, a mother has a fundamental right to breastfeed in public or private. The only limitation is in the private home of another person."
     
    NBCLA contacted Cost Plus World Market for comment. Jane Baughman, the company's executive vice president and chief financial officer, issued this statement:
     
    "Our corporate policy is to uphold all state and local laws regarding breastfeeding, and we want our customers and mothers everywhere to know that we openly support, respect and acknowledge a woman's right to breastfeed in public. We appreciate the passion our customers have shown in response to this recent incident and support their ongoing dialogue in this regard.

    "As a working mother, I support a woman's right to breastfeed in public and am confident the company is taking the necessary actions to prevent any future incidents. In addition, our company officials have spoken directly to the mother involved to express our regrets with this unfortunate incident."
     
    Homme said she accepts the company's apology and she hopes Cost Plus World Market educates its employees about the law.
     
    "Breastfeeding is normal, natural and acceptable. No mother should be forced to go into a bathroom or hot car to feed her child," said Homme. "I don't want this to happen to any other moms."
     
    In an effort to bring awareness to the issue, she and her friends have organized what they are calling a "nurse-in" at the Cost Plus World Market in Orange on Saturday, Aug. 28.