A Kentucky mom is suing Texas Roadhouse after a restaurant manager allegedly tried to cover her with a napkin while she breastfed her newborn daughter.
Sadie Durbin was dining with her family at a Louisville location of the steakhouse chain on Nov. 15 when her then 7-week-old daughter started to get fussy.
“She got hungry, so she needed to nurse,” the mom of two, 30, tells PEOPLE. “I latched her on like I always do, and she was nursing for maybe five minutes when I saw the manager coming around the corner, walking fast and shaking his head at me with a napkin in his hands.”
Durbin says the manager told her to cover up, and tried to place the napkin over the baby’s face.
“He said, ‘Ma’am, ma’am. We’re getting a lot of complaints; we’re going to need you to cover up,’ “ she recalls. “I said, ‘No, I’m feeding my baby, and I’m well within my rights to feed my baby. I’m not going to cover up.’ He said, ‘Yeah, yeah I know, I’ve got six kids, but we’re just really going to need you to cover up.’ At that point I was just shocked, so I said, ‘I’m not going to cover up. I’m feeding my baby.’ So he tossed the napkin down on the table and kind of huffed off.”
Breastfeeding in public is legal across the United States, and has been legal in Kentucky, with or without a cover, since 2006.
PEOPLE has contacted Texas Roadhouse for comment.
Durbin adds that she was covered up as much as she possibly could be, but that it was difficult to nurse.
“There were two giant peanut buckets in front of me, she was wrapped up in a blanket and I had her in a cross-cradle position, as discrete as I can be,” Durbin says. “I find it really difficult, pretty much impossible, to cover. I have to hold my breast, I have to hold the [nipple] shield, and I have to hold her head perfectly in order to nurse her. She unlatches as soon as I try to put a cover over her.”
The stay-at-home mom says she saw the manager talking to another female patron who was glaring at Durbin, so she asked her waitress to see who had complained. That prompted the manager to return and tell her again to cover up, which led Durbin and her husband to leave the restaurant.
“I was really upset, so I went home and made a Facebook post about it,” she says. “When I woke up at 7 a.m. I think the post had thousands of comments, and a lot of hate, and a lot of people saying they couldn’t believe it.”
Durbin has since had to make the post private because she was getting threatening messages, but it has over 32,000 comments and nearly 34,000 shares.
“Men telling me that they’re going to urinate in my mouth if they see me nursing my baby. Women telling me they’re going to throw hot coffee on me if they see me nursing my baby. There’s just been a lot of hate, and I think it kind of overshadows the support, but I have gotten a lot of support,” she says.
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Durbin says although Texas Roadhouse contacted her by email, the note lacked the apology she wanted, and the restaurant’s spokesperson has yet to make a public apology or offer to retrain their staff. The lack of response is what prompted her to sue.
“I think it’s my only recourse,” she says. “There’s a law, but there’s no penalty attached to the law.”
Durbin also hopes that by speaking out, it “raises awareness” of breastfeeding laws and stops anything like this from happening to other moms. She says that, though the threats have been difficult and emotional to deal with, that would make them worth it.
“I think that if I can avoid one mom feeling like I felt in that situation, then yes, I am happy I spoke out,” she says.