By: Sharon Aron Baron
A mother who was nursing her baby was told to take it somewhere else by a local mall employee, despite the fact a Florida law protects breastfeeding mothers.
Vanessa (who doesn’t want her last name used) and her husband, brought their 18-month-daughter to the Coral Square mall children’s playground in Coral Springs last Sunday around 11 a.m., when they saw a mother being approached by a female mall employee. The mother was breastfeeding her baby, who was around 3-4 months old, and she had a cover over the top of her.
“I didn’t even notice that she was breastfeeding, until the employee came and started talking to her,” said Vanessa.
The female employee, who was wearing a mall shirt, told the woman that she should go to the nursing room.
“My husband was the one that overheard this and he called me and said, ‘Look what they’re saying.’”
He asked the employee, “Excuse me, are you telling me she can’t breastfeed?”
“Yeah she can’t. This isn’t the place for it. We have a room.”
Vanessa, a Broward County Public School teacher knew better. “That’s against the law,” she said. “There’s a law protecting women where they can breastfeed in public: covered or uncovered.”
The Florida statute 383.015 Breastfeeding.—The breastfeeding of a baby is an important and basic act of nurture which must be encouraged in the interests of maternal and child health and family values, and in furtherance of this goal:
(1) A mother may breastfeed her baby in any location, public or private, where the mother is otherwise authorized to be, irrespective of whether the nipple of the mother’s breast is uncovered during or incidental to the breastfeeding.
Vanessa got on her phone and Googled the statute. During this time the mother was very embarrassed and said to the mall employee, “I’m finishing right now.”
She said that the mother believed she was doing something wrong, but Vanessa reassured her along with another woman who was sitting nearby who also told the mother that she breastfed there all the time.
“So then there are five us us talking, and I show the employee the law, and started reading it out loud,” said Vanessa. “She seemed confused, she said something, and then she just left.”
Vanessa said that she wished that people knew about the law, especially someone who works at the mall. “I’m pretty sure the mall didn’t tell her to shoo moms that are breastfeeding.”
We reached out to Coral Square Mall who referred us to Simon Property Group. After explaining the story, they released a written statement.
“Coral Square Mall absolutely supports a mother’s right to breastfeed her child wherever she may choose. Our top priority is to provide a safe and comfortable shopping experience for all our customers.”