Just when you think NIP is yesterday's news (where you thinking that?) it is back in the headlines. Corday Piston, a Lexington, KY mother was visiting a Newport, KY Johnny Rockets Restaurant when she was told she could not breastfeed her 6-month old daughter on their patio. Apparently, despite Piston informing the manager of her legally protected right to nurse her child wherever she is authorized to be, she was given the options of a) nursing in the full-sun on a public bench, or b) nursing in the bathroom.
Piston organized local mothers for a peaceful demonstration outside the offending restaurant and returned with the KY statue in hand to show the manager. Overall I think this mother should be applauded for the way she handled it - for knowing her rights and advocating for them. But what can we do?
This is the letter I am sending to Johnny Rockets Corporate (and cc'ing the local restaurant). Will you join me? Feel free to alter the letter in any way you see fit. I think mail is powerful but feel free to email them at their website as well. I am hopeful that a large and multi-state, multi-country response will encourage the company to take action.
Cozette Phifer Koerber
Vice President of Brand Marketing and Corporate Communications
The Johnny Rockets Group, Inc.
25550 Commercentre Drive,
Lake Forest, CA 92630
Dear Ms. Phifer Koerber:
I respectfully write this letter to express my concern over a recent incident that took place at your location at Newport on the Levee Johnny Rockets, Newport, KY 41071. A mother nursing her 6-month old child was asked to leave or nurse her child in the bathroom by the restaurant manager. The is troubling for a number of reasons:
Breastmilk and breastfeeding are the standard for infant nutrition.
Breastmilk contains growth factors, hormones, enzymes, and other substances that are immune-protective and foster proper growth and nutrition. Breastfeeding is associated with a reduction of the risk for children of contracting pneumonia, staphylococcal infections, influenza, ear infections, severe infections of the lower respiratory tract, asthma, obesity, type 1 and type 2 diabetes, childhood leukemia, certain types of cancer, and sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS).
Encouraging breastfeeding is an integral part of many governmental health and wellness initiatives, including programs created by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), and the White House Task Force on Childhood Obesity, among others. And breastfeeding is not just for infants. The American Academy of Family Physicians 2008 Position Paper on breastfeeding states that “breastfeeding at least until the second year of a child's life is not considered 'extended' breastfeeding. Rather, breastfeeding until the bare minimum age of 2 years is the norm and anything less brings about detrimental consequences.”
Children should not nurse in a bathroom.
The thought of a mother taking her child to a public restroom to nurse is disgusting and dangerous. Every time you flush your toilet, an aerosol spray of water droplets – laden with bits of feces and urine – explodes into the bathroom. Significant quantities of microbes float around the bathroom for at least two hours after each flush. In a public bathroom, that means the air is continuously blasted by feces droplets. What’s more? Women’s public restrooms contain twice as much fecal matter as men’s, probably due to the fact that there is the added contamination of soiled tampons and pads, and women are more likely to be dragging in small children and babies in need of a change.
The Law Protects the Right To Nurse in Public.
Kentucky State Law KRS § 211.755 states that a mother may breastfeed her child in any location, public or private, where the mother is otherwise authorized to be. Additionally, every US State in which Johnny Rockets currently operates has similar laws in place as does locations in Canada, Europe, and other countries in which Johnny Rockets operates. As such it is the responsibility of your corporation and local managers to ensure that those working at your restaurants are aware of these laws and regulations. To not do so is truly a dramatic oversight that can lead to dangerous precedent and negligence.
Please work with me to normalize breastfeeding in our society. I am writing to ask you to take positive steps to help breastfeeding mothers.
First, if your organization has internal guidelines regarding breastfeeding mothers and how to handle complaints of patrons about a mother breastfeeding their child I encourage you to review these guidelines on a state-by-state basis to ensure that your guidelines are not actually violating local laws. There are some very real business risk reasons to follow through on this particular item.
Second, I would also encourage you to post your policy in an easily accessible location so that all mothers who may be nursing their child can read your policy and decide for themselves whether they are comfortable with your policy.
Third, a public and sincere apology to the mother in question.
And, fourth, please educate your employees and franchisees about the rights of breastfeeding pairs. If you need help finding materials or someone to lead an informational session, I will gladly help you find a qualified attorney, Lactation Counselor, or La Leche League leader.
cc: Rick Thompson
Johnny Rockets Newport on the Levee
One Levee Way
Newport, KY 41071
 Hamosh, Margit, PhD, Breastfeeding: Unraveling the Mysteries of Mother’s Milk, http://www.asklenore.info/breastfeeding/additional_reading/mysteries.html
 Ip S, et al., Breastfeeding and maternal and infant health outcomes in developed countries, http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/17764214; see also Burby, Leslie, 101 Reasons to Breastfeed Your Child (and citations therein), http://www.promom.org/101/
 See http://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/ ; http://www.cdc.gov/breastfeeding/policy/hp2010.htm ; http://www.letsmove.gov/tfco_fullreport_may2010.pdf
 http://www.aafp.org/online/en/home/policy/policies/b/breastfeedingpositionpaper.html; The AAFP’s position is almost identical to that of the World Health Organization (WHO) and UNICEF. Global Strategy for Infant and Young Child Feeding, http://www.who.int/nutrition/publications/infantfeeding/9241562218/en/index.html.
For similar positions from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and other medical organizations, see http://www.aap.org/breastfeeding/faqsBreastfeeding.html#10; see also http://www.liebertonline.com/doi/abs/10.1089/bfm.2008.9988?journalCode=bfm.
 Breastfeeding and Bathrooms Do Not Mix, http://codenamemama.com/2010/05/24/breastfeeding-and-bathrooms/