Breastfeeding Mom Says Restaurant Owner Covered Her with a Dishrag: 'I Was Offending Her Beliefs'
Katy Bullard was dining at Giovanna’s Pizzeria in Phenix City, Alabama with her husband and 3-month-old daughter, Ashlyn, when the baby wanted to eat as well. Bullard started to breastfeed Ashlyn, with her t-shirt as a cover.
“Unless you were really looking, you would only think I was holding her,” Bullard told local news station WRBL.
But 20 minutes into nursing Ashlyn, Bullard said that one of the restaurant owners, a woman, came over.
“She told me that I needed to cover up,” Bullard said. “When I told her I wouldn’t, she came over with a dishrag. I’m not sure where she got it from. And she tried to cover me and my daughter up. I told her no, I didn’t want to be covered and she tried again to cover me up, and that’s when I took the dishrag and moved it, and I told her that we would leave.”
The woman told Bullard that she didn’t have to leave, but that she “had to cover up because she was a Christian and I was offending her beliefs,” Bullard said. “I told her that I have rights, and that I’d rather just leave and try not to make a big scene out of it.”
Alabama state law allows mothers to breastfeed in any location, public or private.
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In a statement to WRBL, Giovanna’s Pizzeria’s owner, Nelson Rodriguez, apologized, and said that his wife was trying to help Bullard.
“Giovanna’s doesn’t discriminate against anyone and most certainly not individuals wanting or needing to breastfeed. We would never intentionally embarrass a client. We were honestly acting in goodwill,” Rodriguez said. “We are very sorry this customer felt we intentionally embarrassed her and apologized to her at the time. We never asked her to leave. In fact, we told her she didn’t have to leave. My wife was simply honestly trying to assist her. It was clearly a misunderstanding. We are a family business and always have our customers best interest at heart.”
PEOPLE has contacted Giovanna’s for further comment.
Bullard, who does not plan to return to Giovanna’s, said that she doesn’t want to start a lawsuit — she just wants the restaurant to better understand breastfeeding laws to avoid future incidents.
“My goal here isn’t to have them shut down or receive any monetary gain. I just want them to be aware that what they did was wrong,” she said. “And there’s nothing sexual or indecent about feeding a baby. From a Christian standpoint, Jesus wasn’t fed by a bottle.”