Applebee’s restaurants have been known to many as a family friendly place to get a decently priced meal. However, mother Dawn Holland learned differently when she decided to nurse her 20-month old son in a Covington, Georgia Applebee’s earlier this month.
Holland was asked by the manager to move to the restroom to nurse her son or leave the establishment. When she refused to do either, the manager called the police. Holland attempted to explain her breastfeeding rights to the manager, as Georgia is one of 45 states that have laws protecting breastfeeding in public.
Being aware of the Georgia public breastfeeding law, the police officer responding to the manager’s call did nothing. After hearing both sides, he did not even file an incident report.
In response to the incident Applebee’s released this statement:
“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.”
Holland states she was humiliated will never return to that restaurant or any other Applebee’s after this incident.
Nursing mothers across the nation organized a national nurse-in at all local Applebee’s restaurants on September 29, 2012 from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. local time. From Florida to California; Arizona to North Carolina, nursing mothers came out in public to nurse their children in a show of support for Holland and the rights of all mothers in the United States.
The nurse in was met with mixed reactions from the public and restaurant staff. According to participants in various states some managers and wait staff were accommodating and happy to serve those there for the nurse in, while others were obviously annoyed. In one Arizona establishment, other patrons asked not to be seated near the nurse in, while others openly verbalized their support.
Unfortunately, many states that have laws giving mothers the right to breastfeed in public do not have any enforcement provisions. Not enforcing these laws leads to less protection for breastfeeding mothers.