Breastfeeding mother told to cover up by St. Matthews restaurant manager

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- A Louisville woman was told to cover up while breastfeeding at a local restaurant, and her story has gone viral.

Sadie Durbin was at Texas Roadhouse in St. Matthews, breastfeeding her 7-week-old girl, Isla, when a manager approached her.

"It's sad to me that, in 2018, there is not more education to employees, that this man, who is clearly in his 50s, didn't know he was breaking the law," Durbin said.

The manager came up to Durbin while she was eating with her family Thursday night and said "'Oh ma'am, we need you to cover up. We're getting a lot of complaints,'" Durbin recalled.

Durbin added that the manager then went to lay a blanket on her baby's head.

"I kind of moved away. I said 'no, no, no,'" Durbin said. "'That's against the law for you to do this. I have every right to breastfeed my baby.'"

Kentucky law states "a mother may breastfeed her baby or express breast milk in any location, public or private" and "no person shall interfere with a mother breastfeeding her child." 

Durbin posted about the incident on social media, and it's been shared more than 8,400 times so far. Texas Roadhouse said it 100 percent supports breastfeeding, and there are now safety concerns after the manager's name and photo were included in the post.

“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. His offer of a napkin to cover up was not to embarrass or prevent her from nursing her child but in reaction to complaints from other guests. This is a great opportunity for us to reinforce our commitment to women’s right to breastfeed in our restaurants, which we will do.“

Travis Doster, a Texas Roadhouse spokesman, said  the restaurant told the manager to take some paid time off. They say he will not be fired, despite people calling for that.

"He's just as upset about this," Doster said. "Unfortunately, he's going to take some time off. He's very upset about this."

Doster said the manager has worked for the company for 20 years and is a father of five. Even Durbin said she doesn't want him to lose his job.

Doster said the company has reached out to Durbin but hasn't heard back from her.

"We will get better," Doster said. "We'll educate. We are having a call today with our staff."

Durbin also teaches moms about breastfeeding as a La Leche leader. She said there's a reason why she doesn't cover up when breastfeeding.

"Why not cover up?... Before, that's what everybody did, and they went to their car," she said. "I mentioned a mom nursed her baby on a disgusting toilet. That's terrible. It's not easy to throw a cover on and latch your baby on. You have to see what you're doing, and those covers don't allow you to do that."

She says her baby has had a hard time latching and has overcome a lot, and there's nothing wrong with breastfeeding uncovered.

Durbin and Texas Roadhouse agree that more education is needed.

"There is a lot of confusion about what is and what is not allowed by law, and we've certainly learned," Doster said.

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