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Toys R Us, But Breastfeeding Apparently Isn’t…

Looking for The Lactivist? She's retired. But you CAN still find Jen blogging. These days, she's runs A Flexible Life. Join her for life, recipes, projects and the occasional rant.

Monday, September 18, 2006

Just last week, a 29-year old mom from Brooklyn discovered that the Toys R Us in Times Square in New York isn’t exactly the child friendly utopia that it claims to be. According to the New York Daily News, Chelsi Meyerson was approached by a store employee when she began nursing her seven month old and was told that she must either relocate to the basement or leave the store.

When Meyerson responded that it was her legal right to nurse her child, the store employee recruited several other store employees who proceeded to “harass” her while security was called.

She contends they ordered her to go to a basement room and threatened to call security - a charge the store denies.

"I was harassed, hassled and embarrassed. It was very humiliating," Meyerson told the Daily News last night. "It was a big deal for me. They treated me like a criminal."
Meyerson said she and her family were wrapping up her 3-year-old daughter Olivia's birthday weekend with a trip to the store when the incident occurred.

When Mason started getting cranky, Meyerson sat down and started feeding him, which is permitted by state law. She said she has breast-fed her child in public numerous times without raising an eyebrow.

Unfortunately, this story is turning into another he said, she said issue where I wish I really knew more about what happened… According to the same news story…

But Toys R Us insisted that store workers only asked Meyerson if she would be more comfortable breast-feeding in a private room.

They said she was never asked to leave or threatened, and was allowed to continue feeding without interference.

"We take this opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to nursing moms," said Bob Friedland, a manager at the store.

Normally, I’d tend to side with the mother on this thinking there’s really not much reason to make up any type of exaggeration about what might have happened, but the New York Civil Liberties Union has taken on the case and is asking for not only a public apology but also for ‘appropriate compensation.” That last bit makes me wonder…that said, every news article and blog post that I can find lends plenty of credibility to Meyerson. In fact, I’m willing to bet that it’s the NYCLU that has threatened to sue and not Meyerson.

The lack of public response from Toys R Us is also deafeningly silent…which leads me to believe that Meyerson’s story is probably pretty darn accurate.

I did find a copy of the NYCLU letter to Toys R Us which gives quite a bit more detail on Meyerson’s side of the story. It claims that as soon as she sat down to nurse she was approached and told that she was “not allowed” to nurse there and would have to move to a private room in the basement. When she refused, four additional saleswomen approached her and told her that it was “inappropriate” because there were “children around.” At that time, the first saleswoman stated that she had called security to “deal with” Meyerson. When Meyerson finished nursing her child she demanded to speak with the store manager and was refused. (She did speak with a floor manager.) She was also denied access to a manager when she called Toys R Us’s corporate headquarters to file a complaint.

Neither the Toys R Us corporate web site nor the Toys R Us Time Square web site feature any press releases or news releases addressing the issue. With that in mind, I’d very much like to see a public apology and some news letting us know that Toys R Us is going to do some training of their staff to make sure this doesn’t happen again. Until then, I think I’ll be heading to Target for supplies instead of Babies R Us.

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  1. Anonymous Anonymous | 9:17 PM |  

    It seems like store policies of supposed nurse-friendly environments never get communicated to the front-line staff. The Babies R Us in my area have a mommy lounge that's pretty cool.

    Although I am very discreet and modest, I nurse everywhere in public!!!

  2. Anonymous Anonymous | 7:00 AM |  

    Toys R Us is not customer friendly by any stretch of the imagination. All they care about is getting your MONEY and don’t care if you have a receipt and want your money back. So, it is no wonder that lawful behavior by a nursing mother is Not Wanted in the stores. Boycott Toys R Us and other divisions. There are too many other customer friendly retailers out there that know how to treat their customer’s right.

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