Breastfeeding mom asked to cover up in restaurant

Oregon state law allows breastfeeding in public

CLACKAMAS, Ore. (KOIN 6) — On a recent Sunday afternoon, Erin Klein unlatched her nursing tank top to feed her baby, Isaac, at the Ram Restaurant at Clackamas Town Center.

The restaurant manager came over and asked her to cover up. But she could tell him Oregon law allows her to breastfeed in public, she said he came back a second time and asked her again.

The Ram Restaurant at Clackamas Town Center, Aug. 13, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)
The Ram Restaurant at Clackamas Town Center, Aug. 13, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)

“That’s when I think we really started to get irritated about it because he came back and he said — well that may be the law but our policy is to ask you to cover,” Klein told KOIN 6 News.

In 1999, Oregon passed the law allowing mothers the right to breastfeed anywhere in public.

The manager at the Ram Restaurant declined to answer a KOIN 6 News question about their breastfeeding policy. Instead, he provided a phone number for the district manager in Salem.

The district manager declined and provided a phone number for the company spokesman in Colorado.

In a faxed statement the restaurant spokesperson in Colorado said: “Women have breast fed in our restaurants for decades without any issue. In this case we were acting on concerns of other guests, including mothers with children that were offended by the lack of discretion with regards to exposure.”

The executive director of the Breastfeeding Coalition of Oregon, Marion Rice, said breastfeeding isn’t about drawing attention to oneself, about breasts or even about the mother. It’s about feeding a baby, and no one should object to that.

Erin Klein and her baby, Isaac, Aug. 13, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)
Erin Klein and her baby, Isaac, Aug. 13, 2014 (KOIN 6 News)

Klein said between the big screen TVs, food on everyone’s table and everything else going on in the restaurant there are plenty of things for people to look at besides her breastfeeding.

She said she doesn’t feel like she needs to go into a private room to breastfeed and said she tries to be as discreet as possible.

“I certainly don’t jump up on the table and do a strip tease. That’s not what we’re there for,” she said. “We’re there minding our own business,  having our own meal and I guess if other people are bothered by it, I guess maybe they should focus on dinner with their family.”

If a business manager or employee asks a patron to leave for this reason, the Oregon hotline is available at 1.800.SAFE.NET (800.723.3638)

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