A spokesperson for Walmart confirms an employee at one of its eastern North Carolina stores asked a breastfeeding mom to move to a toilet stall to feed her newborn.
The confirmation comes after more than a dozen breastfeeding moms nursed in a Jacksonville Walmart on Sunday, bringing attention to the situation that happened there.
A spokesperson with the retail giant says their employee’s action was illegal and against company policy.
The national breastfeeding foundation, Best for Babes, is backing a Jacksonville mom and organized the nurse-in at the Walmart on North Marine Boulevard.
Kelly Messing claims she was breastfeeding her 2-week old with a cover inside the store’s bathroom, when an employee came in and asked her to move into a toilet stall.
Messing says the employee told her she was making other customers uncomfortable.
“…and she stood there waiting for me to get up, so I had to sit in a stall feeding my baby,” Messing wrote on Friday on Facebook.
According to Walmart spokeswoman, Kayla Whaling, breastfeeding in public is supported by the company.
“This store did not follow our policy in this situation and we absolutely apologize to our customer for her experience.”
Whaling says as soon as the company was alerted to the incident, it was immediately addressed to all associates in the store.
“We’re not sure exactly who did not follow our policy but we do not condone this and we have restated our policy to all associates at this retail store.”
Education & Outreach Coordinator for Best for Babes Foundation, Tori Sproat, says this is a new low for nursing harassment.
“She was in the restroom, with a cover, was accosted by an employee that said other customers were uncomfortable,” said Sproat. “That’s pretty atrocious that as a society we are taking a woman who is already projecting to us that she’s already uncomfortable, and then saying ‘Hey, let me make you more uncomfortable for feeding your child.’ [It’s] something that should just be normal and supported.”
This situation outraged many other breastfeeding moms in the East, including Heather Spada.
“I can relate to how this mother felt by hiding in the bathroom because society looks upon it as though we’re doing something wrong or disgusting. And there’s not. We’re feeding our children and there’s nothing wrong with that.”
A General Statute in North Carolina allows mothers to breastfeed in any public or private location, where she is otherwise allowed to be. It also states, every mom has the right to breastfeed with or without a cover.
Walmart says all employees go through training, which includes going over company policy and employees should be aware on the company’s stance on breastfeeding in public.