Law Office of Isaac J. Mass -- Greenfield, Massachusuetts
 
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Breast feeding in public is a right that has statutory protections in Massachusetts.  Mass. Gen. Laws Ann. ch. 111 § 221 provides that “A mother may breastfeed her child in any public place or establishment or place which is open to and accepts or solicits the patronage of the general public and where the mother and her child may otherwise lawfully be present.”  This is very broad language which has not been tested significantly since the law was passed in 2008. Partly the reason is that the statute provides only two remedies:
1) order to restrain such unlawful conduct;

2) upto $500 in actual damages (i.e. lost milk, formula used as replacement, medical costs related to engorgement, costs associated with nipple confusion)

The statute gives no financial award for embarrassment or Inconvenience_.

Still the statute is broad and only provides and exemption for a place of religious instruction or worship.  Under this statute you have a right to breast feed in any public place including but not limited to a courthouse, school building, library, post office, bus, train, taxi, store, restaurant, daycare facility, on the street, or even at a Selectman’s meeting.

Many mothers choose not to pursue any action because: the recovery is limited; they do not intend to return; they are almost completed breast feeding; or they are simply embarrassed or ashamed.  Their willingness to turn the other cheek allows these scofflaws to continue to abuse other women and children by denying them their civil right to breast feed.

Proprietors CANNOT ask women to breast feed in a bathroom or even another room.  They CANNOT ask women to place a blanket or a coat over their child or breast.  They CANNOT make negative comments designed to embarrass or discourage a woman from breast feeding.  They CANNOT deny service or penalize a breastfeeding woman in any way.

The good news is that the statute provides for attorney fees.  Mothers who prevail should not have to pay for the cost of litigation.  If you believe you were denied your rights under the law and want a no cost consultation on how to protect your rights contact the Law Office of Isaac J. Mass.  Even if you do not believe the location you were asked to stop breastfeeding in falls under the law, please feel free to call for a no cost consultation.


 

(c) 2012 Law Office of Isaac J. Mass, 289 Main Street, Suite 201 Greenfield, MA 01301