Breastfeeding Bartlesville Mom Says She Was Asked To Leave Restaurant

Sunday, May 22nd 2016, 11:51 am
By: Dee Duren

A Bartlesville mother told News On 6 she wasn't planning to stir up controversy when she posted about a local restaurant asking her to cover herself up while breastfeeding or leave.

"I'd gone into eat after church, and the baby started crying so I took him out to feed him," Amanda Wilson said. The waitress told her a couple of female customers were upset, Wilson said.

"She asked me if I had a cover, and I said, 'no, he doesn't like one,' so she asked if I would quietly leave, and I did," she said.

It was only later, when she told a couple of friends about the experience, that Wilson learned breastfeeding moms are protected under Oklahoma law.

She posted about the incident, and breastfeeding advocacy groups quickly took up the cause.

"I didn't know it was going to blow up like this," Wilson said. "I wrote the manager a letter and told him maybe he could educate his waitstaff to know it's against the law to ask anyone to leave."

She said she's been contacted by women around the world who are showing support. Some of them protested Sunday at the Bartlesville Eggbert's. People on Facebook have posted numerous photos on the restaurant's Facebook page in support of nursing mothers.

The Eggberts management said in response that they support breastfeeding mothers.

"This is a family business, a family friendly business," owner Byron Boles said. "We appreciate the people who came here today and expressed their opinions with us. We've had the opportunity to visit with some of the people who came to the restaurant today and showed them the... Internet complaint against our restaurant was on March 6, 2015. We were closed from Feb. 3- Nov. 3 of 2015 as a result of a fire. It really brings a lot of discredit to the complaint and we hope we can put this to rest."

Wilson said she admits to getting the date wrong in the letter.

"It was this year," she said. "My baby was born on leap day of this year."

Read Amanda Wilson's letter to Eggberts here:

Wilson said she isn't upset with the business, and everyone at Eggbert's had been polite through the experience, including the waitress who had her food bagged up as carry out that morning in March.

"I'm not suing, trying to get money or anything like that," she said. "I want people to be educated. I wasn't educated about it til recently, and I'm on my fourth kid."

Boles said his restaurant will continue welcoming all families and their needs.

"At Eggberts, we're happy to accommodate families that come in and mothers who want to breastfeed," he said. "It's never been a policy where we would deny someone that opportunity."

Eggberts said it will forward the complaint on to its attorney, so "the claim can be researched and find out more information to see if there is any malicious intent" behind it," Boles said. "Because it is very much against the type of principles our company operates under and other employees support."

One woman who was visiting the restaurant on Sunday but not part of the sit-in, said her in-laws dine there several times a week and she has friends who are employed there. She called Wilson's claim "ridiculous" and said the firestorm that erupted because of her letter affects the people who work there and the business as a whole.

"I think it's totally ridiculous," Sarah Jenkins said. "I am a mom of four kids and I breast fed all of them. Never once did I have any trouble with the little cover. ...I pumped, too. That's always something simple to do. That way you have a bottle - feed your baby. Not a problem."

Donna Childress and Renee Powell were among those protesting at the restaurant on Sunday. They said they chose to come to support Wilson, who is a friend.

"Breastfeeding is a very natural thing to do. It's the best way to feed your baby and I just feel like it needs to be accepted as that," Powell said. "Whether there's a discrepancy in the date, I just think that you need to be able to feed your baby wherever, whenever."

Childress added that breastfeeding "covered or uncovered needs to be normalized in public for women to be comfortable and be the best moms they can be."