ABC news has reported that two women in Ohio have filed a complaint with the Ohio Civil Rights Commission, stemming from an incident two years ago involving breast feeding in a Wal-Mart. Dana Derungs told ABC that she went to buy diapers at a Wal-Mart store with her 6 week old baby. While in the store, her son started to cry, so Dana found a place to sit and prepared to breast feed her baby. She was sitting on a bench near the women’s dressing room. But before she could even get started, an attentive Wal-Martian “ordered” Derungs to take her child into the bathroom to nurse — or else leave the store. Derungs shot back: “Would YOU want to eat your lunch in the bathroom?” But this unappetizing thought got her nowhere, and Derung “fled the store crying.” Derung says she filed her complaint to try and get Wal-Mart to change its policy on breastfeeding in its stores. A year after the incident, Derungs was offered a compromise by the folks at Wal-Mart. Derung’s lawyer called the proposal “at the very best…goofy”. Wal-Mart was apparently willing to allow Dana to nurse in the store — but nobody else! Wal-Mart “One Mother” policy. As for the apology that Derungs wanted for the way she was treated by Wal-Mart employees — no apology was offered. Meanwhile, a second woman, Jennifer Gore, filed a similar complaint against Wal-Mart’s breast feeding policy. “They need a policy not to harass mommies and babies in their stores,” Gore told ABC news. So, why won’t Wal-Mart let babies suck? The irony is, Wal-Mart claims that tbe company DOES allow moms to breastfeed in their stores. One Wal-Mart spokesman was quoted by ABC as saying: “We not only allow but welcome mothers to breastfeed their babies, in no matter which Wal-Mart store or which community. There’s no restriction.” Will Wal-Mart’s true policy about breast-feeding be exposed in court?
The news report suggests that if the 2 Ohio women can prove their case, Wal-Mart will have a hard time legally defending itself, since many breast feeding mothers have sued and won the right to breastfeed in public, and 20 states have passed laws in the past six years giving women the right to breastfeed in public. Of course, it is entirely possible that Wal-Martians in Ohio stores were not familiar with the official policy at Wal-Mart, as expressed in the bumpersticker seen on passing cars: Wal-Mart Sucks. In Ohio, however, that may not be the case.