Jane Meyers is the co-owner of Maricopa Press, a publication specializing in local history and culture. Maricopa Press is one of your firm’s regular clients. She has sent you the following email unrelated to her usual business. Looking only at the Arizona statutes, what advice can you provide your client?
To: Eager Young Associate
From: Jane Meyers
RE: Need legal advice
I’m writing today on a personal matter. Last night, I was having dinner with my partner and our two children at Sunshine Eatery and Bistro. My two-year old was feeling cranky and wanted to nurse. I didn’t even think about it, I just settled him on my breast and continued the dinner conversation. A few minutes later, the waiter came by and asked me to take my child to the bathroom, if I was going to continue “doing that.” He pointed vaguely at my chest and I realized that he was embarrassed by my nursing.
Honestly, there were women in the restaurant who were showing more skin with their low-cut dresses. I lured my son away from my breast with promises of ice cream, but I felt guilty about that. I didn’t want to nurse him in the bathroom.
Later I mentioned the incident on Facebook and one of my friends told me there were laws protecting women’s rights to breast-feed in public places. She lives in Washington State where I’m sure there are such laws.
My question for you is – do we have such laws in Arizona? If so, is there something I can do to get this restaurant to stop sending women to the restroom to feed their babies?
A.R.S. section 41-1443 Breast-feeding: public place; public accommodation
A mother is entitled to breast-feed in any area of a public place or a place of public accommodation where the mother is otherwise lawfully present.
Our client asked us what she could do to get this restaurant to stop sending women to the restroom to feed their babies. What, if any, remedies does the statute provide?
As it turns out this statute appears among the Civil Rights statutes, which create a civil right of action, including attorneys fees and statutory damages for violations of Civil Rights laws.
A.R.S. section 41-1471 Charge by persons aggrieved; investigation; conciliation agreement; civil action; temporary relief
However, as it turns out, the remedies apply only to enumerated sections of the Civil Rights laws and the right to breastfeed in public is not enumerated. See footnote.
So a right without a remedy.
Note that other states, including Washington, have similar statutes that do provide a remedy.
Please let me know your comments or questions.