A 35-year-old mom sparked a nurse-in at Target stores after being "harassed and humiliated by Target employees" for breastfeeding her five-month-old in one of their stores.
Best for Babes, a website that advocates breastfeeding, received a phone call and an email from the mother on Nov. 29. A subsequent Dec. 14 post outlined Michelle Hickman's Nov. 29 experience in a Texas Target store.
According to Hickman's story, one employee told her, as she was sitting on the floor in a discreet location, which included a blanket over her nursing baby, she needed to move to another location. A second employee said that Target employees were trained and told to interrupt breastfeeding mothers and move them to fitting rooms.
Hickman said, "Employee #2 even hinted in a threatening way “you can get a ticket and be reported for indecent exposure” when nothing was being exposed and there was more boob showing from low cut shirts several shoppers were wearing that night."
The mother indicated it was the employees that made more of a spectacle of her nursing her baby rather than the breastfeeding itself. No customers were even in the vicinity, said Hickman.
She took her issue to the corporate level and that yielded no better reaction. Hickman was basically told that Target is aware of the law, but the company has different policies because stores are a "family friendly public place."
The National Council of State Legislatures outlines state laws on breastfeeding.
After her experience, Hickman and other mothers, organized a nurse-in took place on Dec. 28 at 10 a.m. at Target stores.
Nursing mothers across the U.S. supported Hickman and came to Target stores to nurse their babies.
"Things like this are really wonderful because it takes a lot of mother-to-mother support and even though none of us know the mother in Texas, it's just a matter of everyone pulling together and saying, it is OK, don't feel bad about it," Emily Barnhill, mother of an 18-month-old boy, told CNN Wilmington affiliate WECT.
“I’ve gotten way more support than I imagined,” Hickman said outside the Webster Target store, reported Houston's Chronicle.
The West University Examiner shared Target's statement about this issue. The statement indicated guests are welcome to breastfeed in the store without "being made to feel uncomfortable," but also mentions the fitting room option.
Target also said, "Target has been in touch with the store to ensure all team members are aware of our breastfeeding policy. Target is proud to support all mothers who breastfeed year-round, including today [day of the nurse-in]."
"In regards to the concerns brought to our attention, we worked with this guest directly to address her concerns and are sorry for any inconvenience it has caused."
Updated 12:10 p.m.
Michelle Hickman told Digital Journal in a phone interview, "They [Target] did not ever issue a direct apology to me other than the blanket statement."
Hickman described her telephone encounter with Target Corporate and felt Target could have handled this situation in a much better fashion. She pointed to others such as the Houston Zoo and Whole Foods.
The Texas mom said Whole Foods handled the situation positively after a customer was approached by an employee and ended up walking out of the store. When a nurse-in was planned, the company welcomed the mothers.
In that instance, Whole Foods responded, "The bottom line is some people made some mistakes and we have addressed that internally," said Libba Letton, a Whole Foods spokesperson. "This nurse-in is a great way to bring attention to an important issue."