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Breastfeeding Mom Sues Barnes & Noble

Mom's Breastfeeding Battle Costs Barnes & Noble Big Money

When Shereen Matera was asked to leave an establishment because her breastfeeding made other customers uncomfortable, she put up a fight — a big one. In March, the 22-year-old mom was nursing her son at a Barnes & Noble in Nanuet, NY, when an assistant manager asked her to cover up or leave. Matera kept calm and explained that New York law allows women to breastfeed in public, but the employee said the store had a different policy.

Matera went home and shared her story with the Facebook group Badass Breastfeeders of New Jersey. Members of the group were equally outraged and organized a nurse-in for the following day at the same store. This caught the attention of state Attorney General Eric T. Schneiderman, who decided to investigate into the situation and fight for the women's rights. After months of deliberation, Schneiderman and Barnes & Noble reached an agreement on Wednesday that will create some big changes at the book store.

"All New York residents, including breastfeeding mothers, must be afforded equal protection under the law," Schneiderman tells a local news outlet. "No mother should endure harassment for breastfeeding her baby in public. There is one set of rules for everyone in New York, and I applaud Barnes & Noble for taking steps to ensure that moms are not harassed or discriminated against."


Under the agreement, Barnes & Noble will train all store employees and managers on the state's breastfeeding policy, display the international symbol for breastfeeding at the entrances to its New York stores, and strengthen its customer complaint resolution. In addition to these changes, the bookstore will make a $10,000 donation to a breastfeeding support program run by the Rockland Department of Health. Though Matera is pleased with the outcome, she says a simple apology would have been enough.

"If she had just said 'I'm sorry,' that would have been the end of it," Matera says of the Barnes & Noble employee. While that may be true, we're sure many New York moms are happy that things didn't end there.

Source: Flickr user brewbooks

Join The Conversation
JAM282 JAM282 3 years

Many children won't tolerate a cover and either scream or flail until it comes off -- which could actually result in exposing MORE than just simply having the baby nurse quietly with no cover. My child when very young accepted the cover, then got older, and would not. So then what? According to your 'friend' she recognizes that mothers should not have to hide. I still had a right to be in public, and baby still must be fed so I expect people to not look, especially if there is no separate room, or it is occupied, or I can't get to it in time. You totally ignored the point I made that people see things in public ALL THE TIME that they may not like, or may not choose to do themselves. It'd be nice I guess if we each got to tell everyone else how to behave in public (i.e. no using bad grammer, wearing ugly clothes, or chewing with mouth open). But, we don't have a right to control others' behavior just because we don't like it -- we can not look, or leave. Pretty simple.

AmandaS24396 AmandaS24396 3 years

I just finished having this same conversation with a mother who does breast feed in public and has been asked to cover up. She said it didn't bother her that someone was uncomfortable with it and she covered up. This women is all about equal rights and doesn't think mothers should have to hide to feed their babies. She said she understands that some people are just uncomfortable with it and she respects them. Yes she said more stores need to offer spaces for mothers mostly big chain stores and understands that smaller stores can't afford to put a nursing room in. She also said by saying I will feed my baby where I want because it is natural part of having a baby and will not use a cover is just as bad as saying back to that person then don't look. You can't respect their feelings why should they respect yours? I agree if you say don't like it don't look then they have a right to say cover up. Mothers are becoming to one sided on this issue and don't seem to get that.

TonyaKuhlman TonyaKuhlman 3 years

It is amazing how any child even survived before modesty went out the window a few years ago. I breastfed all 4 of my kids in public without my tits hanging out. My kids saw me do it at home but when I was out and saw other women with their nasty breast hanging out, it disgusted me and my children were left with questions and concerns. If we are going to act like animals, we might as well all walk around naked, after all it is natural isn't it. If you believe it is okay for your child to see other women's breast, just go ahead and give him or her a raunchy magazine so they can see it all.

JAM282 JAM282 3 years

Did you have a lot of Muslims or Amish in your store (as you say, families who teach their kids modesty)? Because I see a lot of religious people that wear full body-coverings in public -- and yet, they don't expect everyone in public to dress the way they do, or behave the way they do, or not breastfeed in public the way they do. If I get 'offended' by someone using poor grammar, or chewing with their mouth open, or BF their child, or wearing immodest clothing, can I require them to stop what they are doing, or cover up? No -- but I can leave, and/or say "kids, in this family/religion, we don't do/wear that," and that's it. In a public space, we may observe all kinds of things we wouldnt' do/say, or otherwise don't want to see - but that doesn't mean the person doing/saying those things is wrong or should be forced to change THEIR behavior if it conflicts with your morals.

JAM282 JAM282 3 years

No I haven't lost that ability -- but you apparently lost (or never had) the ability to communicate clearly, or else you wouldn't make terrible analogies (i.e., compare a child running around naked-- i.e. an indulgence, to him eating-- i.e., a necessity). So to your actual point -- no, it is not 'necessary' for anyone to do anything in public. We could all sit home and be hermits -- then no one would get offended by anything! But everyone has the right to be in public, and in exercising that right a BF mom may at times 'expose' part of their breast to facilitate a feeding (which the laws of most jurisdictions allows). If you feel that a mom having to account for the delicate sensibilities of EVERYONE ELSE around her when attempting to BF a child in public is a reasonable requirement, you are (thankfully), an increasingly diminishing minority. Move on we shall.

JAM282 JAM282 3 years

Janet, what point is yours exactly? I just explained that your comparison b/w breastfeeding and whipping out a cock was ridiculous, which you seem to concede, but then followed up wtih a non-sequiter that both acts should be non-public. Women in this country have a right to be in public, whether an emergency or not, which right is not surrendered should one happen to be breastfeeding an infant, nor because others are 'uncomfortable' with them doing so. Many places do not have reasonable accommodations (e.g. a separate room), in some instances there is not even a free chair or bench, making it difficult accomplish without the, ahem, 'fanfare' of taking an infant out, holding him up, adjusting your top while hanging onto a purse/belongings, and keeping sight of one's other kids (if any), not to mention some babies reject covers and give little to no warning between sleeping soundly and screaming in hunger. Kudos to those fellow public space dwellers who didnt get upset, feeding an infant in public is inherently not upsetting, it's time more people realized that!

Cass1404441225 Cass1404441225 3 years

I feel so sorry for your children.

JAM282 JAM282 3 years

it's 'weird' because the act of procreation is not publicized. The argument is not that sex is unnatural, but that the act of feeding a child is a necessity that must be fulfilled on sometimes an hourly basis. Is there some need I am not aware of for men to whip out their cocks in public at every opportunity? Do enlighten us on that.

JAM282 JAM282 3 years

NOPE, WRONG. if YOU are offended by seeing a BF'ing mom and child, then YOU stay home, cover your eyes (or just look away) -- the answer is not forcing her to retreat or cover up. What's next -- I am offended by ugly people, or people that chew with their mouths open, or whoever else I am 'uncomfortable' seeing in public, so can I ask them to leave or cover up? "Here ya go, sir -- just throw this light blanket on your head to resolve this 'conflict' of me being a hypersensitive, entitled control freak -- thanks"!

JAM282 JAM282 3 years

I think Cassandra meant you are making it taboo by equating it with an 'indulgance' (your words), like your kid runing around naked, which is a terrible analogy. tt is a necessity to feed one's child, and this is nature's way of doing so. In other words, if YOU are offended by seeing a BF mom and child, then YOU stay home (or cover up your OWN face or simply look away) -- not the other way around. Period. End of story. Moving on.

trisha57940 trisha57940 3 years

I breastfeed my daughter till she was two years old. And guess what breastfeeding is healthy, and a great bonding time for mom and baby BUT I don't want to see you breast or have a 6 year old daughter see anyone breast . I used a thin sheet and it worked fine until she got a little bigger and then she would pull it off and when she did I would stop feeding her and go sit in the backseat of my car and feed her there without the blanket. I'm not saying to be ashamed of it but to have some kind of respect for other peoples feeling. New moms keep in mind there are other people around you and there are also children so please be courteous to other peoples feeling. If you go to a restaurant make sure you feed your child before you get there. I'm not saying go to the restroom and feed them (that's just nasty) but try to feed them before you get there or get a thin sheet cover your self up while you feed your child. Just because your baby is a breastfeed baby it doesn't give anyone the right to show their nipple in public. (And yes I have seen once or twice women with nipple hanging out instead of trying to be discrete)

Cass1404441225 Cass1404441225 3 years

You are so deluded if you think that's why mothers breastfeed.

Cass1404441225 Cass1404441225 3 years

Babies are not gross. Your attitude is gross. Babies don't ruin things by breastfeeding. You are a disgusting human being to talk about babies in that way. I feel sorry for all the babies and mothers who have to suffer through your snobby attitude.

Tumbleweed1392058374 Tumbleweed1392058374 3 years

The fault is with the people who take the example of the extreme exceptions and use that to judge everyone. That is the very definition of discrimination and bigotry! People should not be punished due to OTHER stupid people.

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