Outrage after breastfeeding mom asked to cover up

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – What happened to a Fort Wayne mom at a local business has outraged many in Northeast Indiana.

We learned via messages on our Facebook page and our Report!t feature, a mother was at Jungle George’s on Parnell Avenue Wednesday and was breastfeeding her baby.  According to the mother and reports from others who were there, a male manager felt she wasn’t covered up enough after a few patrons complained to him.

He approached the nursing mother and asked her to please cover up.  This upset the mother and many others because they feel he had no right to ask the breastfeeding mom to cover up.  In fact, according to Indiana law nursing moms don’t have to cover up.

According to Indiana Code 16-35-6:
“Notwithstanding any other law, a woman may breastfeed her child anywhere the woman has a right to be.”

Thursday morning, a Jungle George staff member issued a public apology to patrons on their Facebook page:

“I am one of the female staff who works at Jungle George’s. I am so saddened by what has happened. We have all got together as a staff to discuss. We humbly want to offer our very sincere apologies to anyone and all that has been offended by this . We think the situation has brought so many good things to light. We have so much more education that needs to take place in our facility as well as our community in general. Our male staff was responding to a complaint from another patron and that is when he approached the breastfeeding mom. He feels awful for offending her and wishes he would have handled it differently. He is sincere in that he is very sorry. He feels like he has learned so much about the situation from this. We truly never felt that women should not be free to breastfeed in public and especially at our facility. All our staff agree that we want to be a place that makes a breastfeeding mom feel welcomed. He was in a uncomfortable situation trying to manage and did not have much personal experience in this area. We have decided that we will be doing education to all our staff and will definitely be following the guidelines in Indiana. We also would like to take it a step father and say we would like to offer our facility and resources as a place to start a community wide education efforts if you mom’s would want it. We have a very good contracted marketer that we work with that could help facilities a full blown media and education campaign. We could raise some money by having events and donate it to this cause. Let’s use this as a learning experience for us and turn something something good and positive into this that would help our community be more supportive and sensitive to this important topic. Isn’t that what Fort Wayne is about? The city that saved itself? We could educate others so this doesn’t happen to other mom’s.”

The mom tells NewsChannel 15 she doesn’t want to bash Jungle George’s, she just wants to raise awareness about breastfeeding and the laws protecting mothers’ rights.

On Thursday, NewsChannel 15 spoke with the woman representing Jungle George’s, Lori Hunt.

“We just want to sincerely apologize to this mom,” spokesperson for Jungle George’s Lori Hunt said.

Hunt admits their employee was in the wrong asking the nursing mom to cover up.

“We realize these are our customers.  We think it’s a healthy habit.  We are in complete support of it, and it happens all of the time here.  So, I think it’s one of those things that he had too many people coming up to him and he didn’t know how to address it.”

Now, the owner of the business says employees will be brought up to speed on their breastfeeding policy.  Something they believe would have prevented what happened yesterday from happening in the first place.

“Our staff would have felt more empowered to just tell the people who were coming up and complaining that this is something we allow.”

Hunt says the business views this as a growing opportunity.  Now, they plan to launch an educational campaign on breastfeeding and nursing moms’ rights.

“Maybe it’s time for Indiana to get on board and educate everyone so that this is just an accepted norm.”

Next Wednesday morning at 10, you’re invited to come to Jungle George’s and help them craft their new campaign which supports nursing moms’ legal rights.  Jungle George’s is located at 4610 Parnell Avenue in Fort Wayne.

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