Legal Question in Civil Rights Law in California

A young couple with a 3-month-old baby entered our small, fancy, and, at that time, crowded restaurant. After I seated them, the rather tall large woman pulled down her T-shirt on one side and began to breastfeed her baby with breast fully and prominently exposed. I politely and quietly asked her to please cover herself (obviously out of respect for other customers). She snapped back indignantly that it was state law. I could do nothing but walk away. Researching this, I found that civil code 43.3 is very vague, in fact not even understandable. Are there no provisions for trying to keep a certain standard in your own establishment? Have we no rights? And what about laws against indecent exposure?--Many of our customers would regard this as such a case. Do they not have rights either?

Asked on 9/05/14, 10:43 am

2 Answers from Attorneys

Terry A. Nelson Nelson & Lawless

While most mothers have more 'class' than this one, you are on quicksand trying to stop her or offend her. The law really does protect nursing mothers, despite the issues you raise and your interpretation. You might consider obtaining some nice scarves to pleasantly offer a mother without other means of being discrete and modest.

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Answered on 9/05/14, 10:49 am
Phillip D. Wheeler, Esq. Phillip D. Wheeler, Attorney At Law

I am so sorry but there is not much you can do. The courts have sided with nursing mothers on this issue over and over. I will tell you that many other restaurant's are fighting this same dilemma as week speak. Do an internet search for a recent news article talking about a very fine restaurant somewhere that states on a sign as you enter the restaurant that children that are out of control or loud will be asked to leave with their parents.

However, that is apples and oranges. A woman's right to nursing is taken very seriously.

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Answered on 9/05/14, 12:17 pm

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