On Wednesday, married couple Kevin and Anala Leichtman took their friends to Relish & More, a restaurant in Boca Raton, Florida. Their 10-month-old son Asher was hungry so Anala began breastfeeding under a blanket, when an employee told her in passing, “Honey, you have to cover that up. You can’t do that here.”
“I got up and went to my car to finish feeding my son,” Anala tells Yahoo Beauty. “When I returned, the employee apologized but said that another table was complaining and threatening to leave. She gave us a $25 gift card for our trouble.”
When the couple went home, Kevin, a Broward County teacher, uploaded a photo of his son to Facebook and captioned it, “This was absolutely humiliating. Almost a year old and until this point, we had never had a word said to us about breastfeeding until today.”
Facebook commenters vowed to boycott the restaurant and deemed the incident “ridiculous” and “shameful.” Customers also flooded the restaurant’s Facebook page with memes of breastfeeding mothers and comments that the employee’s actions were illegal — in Florida, women have a right to breastfeed anywhere they’re legally allowed to be, regardless of whether they’re covered or not.
On Tuesday, the restaurant posted a public apology on its Facebook page — and an announcement that the employee had been terminated for their “poor and regrettable choice.” Co-owner Desiree Tobin also wrote in the note that she’s the mother of a 6-year-old boy who she also breastfed and that opponents of public breastfeeding are not “as enlightened or progressive.”
The restaurant also created a new milkshake called “Milk and Cookies,” partial proceeds of which will be donated to La Leche League for breastfeeding education.
We at Relish & More in Boca Raton are a family-owned & operated, and family friendly, restaurant. Most unfortunately, a…
“While my husband and I appreciate the apology from Relish & More as a gesture of good faith, we do not think we will be returning to the establishment,” Anala tells Yahoo Beauty. “We maintain that we were already covered up when we were told that we couldn’t breastfeed in the restaurant and that we did not ask or hope for the employee to be fired. We hope the business flourishes and we are glad that in sharing our experience we sparked some debate and helped to raise a little awareness about Florida breastfeeding laws and the lack of clarity regarding their enforcement.”
She added, “As it stands the law decriminalizes the act of breastfeeding in public, but does not protect mothers from the embarrassment and shame they endure when they are singled out by someone who believes it is inappropriate or shameful behavior.”
Read more from Yahoo Style + Beauty: