Tag Archives: breastfeeding discrimination

Victoria’s Secret: Go Breastfeed in the Alley

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Yet again, a breastfeeding mother has been discriminated against, but this time in the incident happened inside a Victoria’s Secret in Texas.
Of course it’s fine to show your breasts…just not if there is a baby attached to it!
This brought of memories of my own experience when my local BIG Latch On group was asked to leave our local mall for breastfeeding. We were sitting quietly in the play area when a security guard told us that we had to leave. When we informed him that we were protected by law to feed our babies anywhere we need to, he argued that because we were on private property, the law didn’t apply.
Anyway, just yards away were Victoria’s Secret posters that exposed MUCH more skin than any of us! One mom in our group was even using a cover!
The Mall at Barnes Crossing repeatedly apologized, and Victoria’s Secret issued a statement apologizing to the mother, but this brings up the serious issue that businesses need to inform their employees of the law protecting breastfeeding mothers BEFORE things like this happens!

The news story from Fox 7 in Austin, TX states this:

A mother shopping at the Victoria’s Secret store at the Domain says she was denied the right to breastfeed. Instead, she was told to go to an alley.

Under Texas law, “a mother is entitled to breast-feed her baby in any location in which the mother is authorized to be.”

But that wasn’t the case for one mother who came to us in disbelief. Now she’s hoping other women don’t have to go through what she had to.

Ashley Clawson had just finished spending $150 at Victoria’s Secret. But she left with more than she bargained for.

“I was humiliated by the whole thing, I immediately called my husband,” Clawson said.

On Monday afternoon she asked an employee behind the counter if she could nurse her 4-month-old son in the fitting room. It was the response she got that came as a shock.

“Said no, you cannot nurse your son in our fitting room but you can go outside to the alley and nurse him there, no one usually goes there,” Clawson said.

After clarifying with the employee what was said, she knew it was no misunderstanding.

“I don’t even know what alley she was talking about. I didn’t explore it because my son. Obviously if you’ve been around a baby… once they start crying there is no going back,” Clawson said.

Once she got home, she posted what had happened on Facebook, getting more support than she could have ever imagined.

“Some of these people I’ve been getting friend requests from I have no clue who they are and people who have shared it on their page, their friends have shared it, and they’ve tagged certain groups that I never even knew existed,” Clawson said.

She filed two complaints before being told she would be receiving something in the mail. Clawson now has a different perspective on the company.

“The posters and everything are just women showing their breasts and obviously to Victoria’s Secret in my eyes, it’s looked at as a play toy. Not necessarily, means for you know nursing your child, which is why we have breasts to begin with,” Clawson said.

She is hoping this situation can be used as an example for change.

“I do think that Victoria’s Secret needs to train their employee’s better on the breastfeeding policy and know the laws on it,” Clawson said.

Victoria’s Secret issued the following statement:

“We take this issue very seriously. We have a longstanding policy permitting mothers to nurse their children in our stores and we are sorry that it was not followed in this case. We have apologized to Ms. Clawson, and we are taking actions to ensure all associates understand our policy that welcomes mothers to breastfeed in our stores.”

I have tried to contact Mrs. Clawson & will update when I get a chance to speak with her.

In the meantime, I encourage you to call or email Victoria’s Secret and let them know the importance of informing all of their employees of the laws protecting breastfeeding mothers. All it takes is a simple note on a bulletin board or by the time clock, people! Get it together, businesses!

The contact page for Victoria’s Secret is here.

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Sinclair College student told to go to bathroom to pump.

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Shelbi Wallace, an American Sign Language major at Sinclair Community College in Dayton, Ohio, has been denied a place to pump for her two month old baby and has been forced to pump in the hallway while using a cover. Any mother who has ever pumped knows that not having a quiet, comfortable place to pump can greatly decrease letdown and the amount of milk pumped can be compromised from the stress. This can be detrimental to the breastfeeding relationship between mother and baby.

Ms Wallace has gone through several different support services at the college to no avail. She called the ombudsman, whose job according to Sinclair’s website, is:

The Ombudsman provides assistance to the students who indicate they have problems/issues or concerns that need resolution.

It may involve:

  • Listening Carefully
  • Answering Questions
  • Investigating Complaints
  • Making Appropriate Referrals
  • Mediating a Resolution
  • Helping Students Persist Toward Educational Goals

The Ombudsman can:

  • Listen to problems
  • Investigate
  • Mediate, facilitate, and clarify policies and procedures

Ms Wallace was basically told, “Sorry, there’s nothing that I can do. But at least we know about it. Good luck.” She then spoke with the director of the ASL lab where she was told to use the bathroom, even though there are private areas that could be used for pumping. Someone named Kevin in the Department of Facilities told Shelbi that “there was nothing he could do until his manager got back from vacation in 2 weeks and that all the space they have is for learning”

Hey Kevin…find an empty classroom with a plug in! Simple as that!

She finally decided to seek help on Sinclair’s Facebook page and their reply to her post was, “We contacted several departments and were given the same reply, so we aren’t sure who else to contact that could make some progress…perhaps the Ombudsman. She is the campus/student advocate for Sinclair and may be able to help move your voice along. You can contact her office at 937-512-2205. It’s no guarantee that she’ll be able to find a new spot for you, but at least she’ll be aware of the situation. Good luck and please let us know if you have any more questions or concerns!”

Then when she pressed further, she was told that there was a locker room that she could use in buiding 8, which is all the way across campus from where her classes are in building 9, which would mean her having to walk 15 minutes across campus, pump, then walk 15 minutes back to class. This is an unreasonable suggestion and is flat out discrimination.

They were nice enough to provide a map for her, though with the message, ” Shelbi — according to several campus sources, the women’s locker room in building 8 is available for these sorts of things. We attached a campus map so you can visually see where building 8 is.”

https://www.facebook.com/photo.php?fbid=10151619593419702&set=p.10151619593419702&type=1

These sorts of things? Seriously, Sinclair? This woman just wants to be able to provide milk for her child!

What I find ironic though, Sinclair offers a list of 53 resources spanning from drug addiction to preparing resumes, but absolutely none for mothers who need to pump for their babies. Find that page here: https://resources.sinclair.edu/MyGPS/index.html#/MyGPS/search.html

They even provide a nice little powerpoint presentation on helping students to succeed seen here, http://www.sinclair.edu/support/success/pub/CTLpresentation.pdf , but yet they have no interest in helping Shelbi to suceed, since clearly she doesn’t fall into the appropriate category of those who need support, her being a breastfeeding mother and all…

In Shelbi’s words, “It’s a shame I have to use my energy in finding a place to pump instead of focusing on my classes”

Perhaps we should MAKE them care about supporting breastfeeding mothers….

Here is their facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/sinclaircommunitycollege?fref=ts

Ohio State University has 8 nursing rooms on their campus. Duke University has one in every building. Maybe Sinclair should take some serious notes from them!

Shelbi has started a petition urging the school to support breastfeeding mothers.

A breastfeeding mother who returns to work or school cannot continue to breastfeed if she can not pump. A breastfeeding mother cannot express milk sufficiently if there is not a comfortable and sanitary place to do so. The United States government has recognized this issue and has put in place “The Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act” (PPACA).The law requires employers to provide “reasonable” break time and a private place other than a bathroom where a working mom can express breast milk for her nursing baby. However, the law doesn’t say anything about college’s doing the same for their students.This petition can help change that for Sinclair. As of right now, there is one area that is known as the “mother’s room” and this room is actually a locker room. A locker room is not an appropriate place to make food for a child. It also does not offer privacy. In addition to it being in an inappropriate location, it is only on one side of campus. What about the mom’s who have classes on the other side of campus? It is not reasonable to think that these mom’s can leave class, walk 10-20 minutes to this space, pump for 15 minutes, and then walk back another 10-20 minutes. In the time it takes for someone to do that, class would be over. Some women might be embarrassed or not want to deal with the hassle of getting someone to help her find a place to pump and thus, quit breastfeeding. Sinclair should support breastfeeding and encourage mother’s to continue to breastfeed by providing spaces that are not a bathroom and that have privacy available. These spaces should also be available through out campus and not just one area. It is important for mothers perusing their education, to know that just because they are going to college, does not mean that they have to sacrifice their breastfeeding relationship with their child.

You can sign the petition here: https://www.change.org/petitions/sinclair-community-college-support-breastfeeding-mothers?share_id=wEnlhVujYv&utm_campaign=share_button_action_box&utm_medium=facebook&utm_source=share_petition

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***UPDATE***
After the blog post went viral, Shelbi was finally contacted by SCC and was told that they would open up the lactation room for students. She was also given a private spot in her building to pump.
This happened after several media outlets like the one seen heregot word of the story and started contacting the school.
Do you think this is enough or should they take further steps? Let us know on our Facebook page