Starbucks Praises Barista Who Defended Breastfeeding Mom

Elise Solé
Getty Images
Getty Images

After a mother in Ottawa, Canada, was scolded by a customer for nursing her baby inside a Starbucks and a male barista came to her aid, the coffee giant expressed support for its employee, saying he did the right thing.

“We want everyone who comes to our stores to enjoy their visit and to be treated with dignity and respect," Louisa Girotto, director of public affairs at Starbucks Canada, tells Yahoo Shine. "We were very pleased with the customer service our partner offered the woman who was breastfeeding, and I will reach out to him directly.”

The story recently went viral after blogger Annie Urban shared it on her Facebook page for her blog, PhD in Parenting, racking up almost 28,000 likes and 1,800 shares by Tuesday. In June, mother Julia Wykes visited a Starbucks on Trainyards Drive in Ottawa, and when her 5-month-old son became hungry, she sat down at a table to breastfeed. Soon, a female customer approached a male barista to complain.

"She said in a very loud voice, I was obviously meant to hear, 'Could you get that woman to stop doing that in public? It is disgusting,'" Wykes told the website SheKnows. The barista, a teenager who Starbucks confirmed to Yahoo Shine is named Alex Kim, told the customer he would ‘take care of it,” then approached Wykes.

To Wykes's surprise, Kim didn’t relay the woman's complaint — instead he smiled and apologized on behalf of the customer, then offered her a free refill along with a voucher for a free drink. The complaining customer quickly left the store.

"To have a young man be more kind and informed than a middle-aged woman who may have had children herself was a shock,” Wykes told SheKnows. “And while it may be a huge multinational company, I am glad that such a positive experience occurred in a Starbucks, it shows that they employ good people."

According to a statement on the government agency website Ontario Human Rights Commission, women have “the right to breastfeed a child in a public area. No one should prevent you from breastfeeding your child simply because you are in a public area. They should not ask you to ‘cover up,’ disturb you, or ask you to move to another area that is more ‘discreet.’”

Yahoo Shine could not reach Wykes or Kim for comment.

Breastfeeding has become a hot-button issue lately. In June, a photo of Karlesha Thurman, a 25-year-old California State University, Long Beach graduate, breastfeeding her daughter while wearing her cap and gown on campus, went viral. Thurman had posted it on the Facebook page Black Women Do Breastfeed, and the Internet exploded with both support and criticism for Thurman, who credited her daughter for helping her stay in school. And in May, two dozen mothers staged a “nurse-in” outside an LA Fitness club in Oceanside, California, in support of a woman named Monique Golueke after a gym employee told her to stop nursing her 9-month-old baby in the women’s locker room and finish in the bathroom (where the only place to sit was on a toilet) after a fellow gym-goer complained.

More on Yahoo Shine:
Breastfeeding Campaign Posters Stir Online Debate
Breastfeeding Just Might Be Overrated, Study Finds
Gisele Bündchen Rebrands Breastfeeding