Outrage After Restaurant Manager Asks Nursing Woman to Cover Her Breast

Jun 6, 2013 7:44 PM

(UPDATE) 6-7-13: We would like to clarify one point to a story we brought you yesterday. We reported that a Chico woman was upset because she'd been asked to cover her bare breast with a napkin while dining at the Pour House restaurant. The story generated a strong reaction from many viewers.
We initially reported that the mere act of "asking" a woman to cover her breast was illegal. That was what we were told by an attorney with the California Women's Law Center in Los Angeles.

Today, we contacted another attorney, Sara Knowles of Leland, Schultz, Morrissey and Knowles, LLP of Chico. She informed us that it is not illegal to to request someone to cover their breast. But it is illegal to refuse service, or ask a breastfeeding woman to leave. Knowles says that would be considered a civil rights infringement under California Civil Code 43.3.
As we reported, the restaurant manager merely asked the woman to cover her breast with a napkin. She chose not to, and left the restaurant.

Nichole Avery says she was asked to cover her breast with a napkin while dining at the Pour House. She says she told the manager it was illegal to ask her to do that, and she got up and left. Several women began posting the incident on Facebook, expressing their outrage. They are organizing a nurse-in in front of the restaurant in protest. Manager Sam Steyer says he never meant to insult the woman or make her leave. He says some customers at a nearby table complained that her breast was exposed, and he was looking for a solution that would make everyone happy. The community outrage has taken him off-guard. Steyer says he's been taking calls from angry people all day, because they believe he asked her to leave. Says Steyer, "I have no problem with women breast feeding. I have no problem with a woman coming in and breast feeding inside the restaurant. I understand what the laws are. I didn't ask the lady to move, I just politely asked the lady to cover her breast with a napkin." Avery says she will continue to breastfeed in public, and will not cover her baby's face with a cloth because it's too hot.


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