Kentucky mother of two Sadie Durbin is suing the popular steakhouse restaurant Texas Roadhouse after the manager at a Louisville location of the chain allegedly tried to cover her with a napkin while she breastfed her newborn baby, People reported.
Durbin said her 7-week-old daughter started getting fussy while her and her family were dining at the restaurant earlier this month on November 15.
“She got hungry, so she needed to nurse,” the mother said. “I latched her on like I always do, and she was nursing for maybe five minutes when I saw the manager coming around the corner, walking fast and shaking his head at me with a napkin in his hands.”
When the manager made it to the table, he explained to Sadie that they were getting a number of complaints and that she needed to cover up. It was then that he tried to take matters into his own hands and cover up the baby with a napkin.
Durbin declined the manager’s request to cover up, claiming to him that she was “well within my rights to feed my baby,” as it is completely legal across the United States, People noted, and specifically has been legal in Kentucky–with or without a cover–since 2006
The manager insisted, even trying to sympathize with her by explaining that he had six kids of his own, but Durbin, shocked, still refused to cover up. The manager, she recalled, responded by throwing the napkin down on the table and walking away in a huff.
Durbin explained that she did try to be discrete while feeding her daughter, but that doing so made it difficult to nurse.
“There were two giant peanut buckets in front of me, she was wrapped up in a blanket and I had her in a cross-cradle position, as discrete as I can be,” she recalled. “I find it really difficult, pretty much impossible, to cover. I have to hold my breast, I have to hold the shield, and I have to hold her head perfectly in order to nurse her. She unlatches as soon as I try to put a cover over her.”
According to Kentucky law, “a mother may breastfeed her baby or express breast milk in any location, public or private.” https://t.co/3zGIcMwSUs
— Lexington Herald-Leader (@heraldleader) November 21, 2018
Sadie said she noticed that the manager was speaking to another female customer who was glaring at her, and asked her table’s waitress if she could determine who it was that complained about her nursing her daughter. This prompted the manager to approach her again to tell her to cover up. It was then that the stay-at-home mother and her husband decided to leave the steakhouse.
Upon returning home, Sadie decided to express her feelings on the situation through a Facebook post, which had received thousands of comments and shares by the time she woke up the next morning. While many people in the comment section were supportive, several people expressed hate and wrote threatening messages, causing Durbin to make the post private.
“Texas Roadhouse supports the rights of all mothers to breastfeed their children in public, including in our restaurants. Unfortunately, our manager’s handling of this situation was misguided and wrong.” https://t.co/8NAFmxjNkF
— Valerie Chinn WDRB (@ValerieChinn) November 17, 2018
According to WDRB, the restaurant released a statement regarding the issue, saying that the chain supports a mother’s right to breastfeed their children in public as well as their restaurants, and that the manager’s offer of a napkin was “not to embarrass or prevent her from nursing” but a “reaction to complaints from other guests.”
Texas Roadhouse spokesman Travis Doster explained that the restaurant decided to give the manager, who has been with the company for 20 years, paid time off, though many are calling for him to get fired.
“He’s just as upset about this,” Doster said. “Unfortunately, he’s going to take some time off. He’s very upset about this.”
A company spokesman says the employee mishandled the situation and wasn't aware state law protects a woman's right to breastfeed in public. https://t.co/4bQRxZ8HlE
— WSAZ NewsChannel 3 (@WSAZnews) November 20, 2018
Despite the restaurant’s statement and being contacted via email, Durbin explained that she felt there was a lack of the apology she was looking for, which has prompted her to take legal action.
“I think it’s my only recourse. There’s a law, but there’s no penalty attached to the law,” she said.
She also hopes her story will “raise awareness” of breastfeeding laws and prevent other new mothers from going through a similar situation.
“I think that if I can avoid one mom feeling like I felt in that situation, then yes, I’m happy I spoke out,” she said.