A Minnesota woman said that she was kicked out of a restaurant convention in Chicago over the weekend because she had brought along her 10-day-old infant, who needed to be breastfed.
Kristin Osborne, 31, told The Chicago Tribune that she was attending the National Restaurant Association trade show at McCormick Place with her husband on Saturday to promote their family’s Spring Valley winery, Four Daughters Vineyard.
Osborne said that she had left her two other children, ages 2 and 4, at home. But she did not think a “no children” rule would apply to her baby, who she was breastfeeding after giving birth just 10 days earlier.
After working at the convention for about an hour, Osborne sat down in a chair to breastfeed the child. When she finished, security guards told her she would have to leave for safety reasons.
“I said, ‘Clearly he’s a breast-feeding baby. I can’t separate from him,’” she recalled. “I understand not having kids run around or not having strollers — that I understand. A tiny breast-feeding infant, I hope would be an exception to this rule.”
Osborne appealed to the show coordinator, who backed up the decision made by the security guards.
“As a working mother — and I have been working since I had my first one — this is a big surprise to me,” Osborn explained. “I have brought my babies all sorts of places. You don’t bring children to adult places, but he eats every hour currently.”
National Restaurant Association spokesperson Sue Hensley insisted that organization was following a long-standing policy that banned all children under the age of 16.
“There are knives. There are ovens. There are cooking demonstrations with open flames,” Hensley noted. “There’s all sorts of equipment that could be very dangerous to a child to have any interaction with and certainly not an infant.”
Although Chicago law does protect the rights of breastfeeding mothers, attorney Jake Marcus pointed out that the protections could not overrule safety policies.
“A child can be banned from an unsafe place,” Marcus said. “The ‘If my child is banned, I am banned’ argument doesn’t work. The adult’s right to be in a space and the child’s right to be in a space are not legally connected.”
Watch the video below from The Chicago Tribune, broadcast May 19, 2014.