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Breastfeeding Mom Settles Complaint Against Barnes & Noble

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By Daniel Taylor, Esq. on July 11, 2014 7:41 AM

A mom who was kicked out of a New York Barnes & Noble bookstore for refusing to cover herself while breastfeeding has settled her complaint with the Attorney General against the company.

A press release issued by New York Attorney General Eric Schneiderman's office announced the terms of the deal, which include improved employee training at Barnes & Noble stores, a $10,000 donation to a local breastfeeding support group, and the posting of the international symbol for breastfeeding at the entrances of all New York Barnes & Noble locations.

What led to the settlement and what does New York law say about breastfeeding in public?

Breastfeeding 'Against Store Policy'

Shereen Matera, 22, of New Jersey, was browsing children's books in a Nanuet, New York, Barnes & Noble when she says an assistant manager approached her and told to cover up or leave. Matera said she informed the manager about her right to breastfeed in public, but the manager insisted that it was "against store policy," reports The Journal News.

She returned a couple of days later with 15 members of a local breastfeeding group, who all breastfed their babies in the store, to the disapproval of another store manager.

Matera said that her subsequent complaints to the Barnes & Noble corporate office led nowhere, so she took her beef to New York's Attorney General's office.

New York's Breastfeeding Law

New York law is clear about the right of women to breastfeed pretty much anywhere. Under the New York Code, "a mother may breast feed her baby in any location, public or private, where the mother is otherwise authorized to be, irrespective of whether or not the nipple of the mother's breast is covered."

New York's indecent exposure statute also explicitly excludes breastfeeding women from being cited under that code section, which otherwise bans the public display of female breasts below the areola.

According to the National Conference of State Legislatures, 46 states now have laws specifically allowing women to breastfeed in public.

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