Mum told to leave cafe; boss says breastfeeding not the reason - poll

LEGAL: Breastfeeding mum Chantal Parslow and her son, Torin Redman, were asked to leave a restaurant.  Picture: Marina Neil
LEGAL: Breastfeeding mum Chantal Parslow and her son, Torin Redman, were asked to leave a restaurant. Picture: Marina Neil

A STOCKTON mum says she feels proud she ‘‘stood her ground’’ when a waitress asked her to leave after she started breastfeeding at a Honeysuckle restaurant on Australia Day.

Chantal Parslow and her two children had taken the ferry to meet her husband at the Landing Bar & Kitchen.

Soon after arriving, her son, Torin, six months, needed to be fed so she walked next door to Ristorante Il Grifone – a family style Italian restaurant – to breastfeed at an outdoor table with better seats.

Mrs Parslow said there were only three other people at the restaurant and she was wearing a breastfeeding singlet, meaning just a small strip of flesh showed.

‘‘I was also facing a pot plant so people walking past would have only seen my back,’’ the business management consultant said. 

‘‘I was so discreet – not that I have to be.’’

Mrs Parslow, 36, said within minutes a waitress asked her to leave and didn't even offer her a menu - from which she would have ordered something.

‘‘She said I was disturbing the customers by breastfeeding and the boss would like me to leave,’’ she said.  

‘‘She didn’t ask me if I wanted a menu; if she had, I would have ordered an apple juice and some food.’’

Ristorante Il Grifone owner Roberto Carcagni said Mrs Parslow was not asked to leave for breastfeeding, but because she wasn’t a customer.

He said a staff member had offered her a menu, which was declined.

‘‘She had been next door at the bar,’’ he said.

‘‘She was asked to leave because she wasn’t a customer.

‘‘We don’t ask our customers to leave if they breastfeed – we would find a quiet corner for them so it doesn’t bother anyone else.’’

Mrs Parslow said she felt proud to have ‘‘stood my ground,’’ asking the waitress if she could speak with the boss. Mrs Parslow said she remained at the restaurant for a short while but no staff spoke to her again – although the three female customers said they supported her.

‘‘I’m a confident breastfeeder but this rocked me a bit,’’ she said.

Mrs Parslow, who also has a two-year-old daughter, said it was her first bad experience breastfeeding and urged all mums to be confident, however they fed their child.

She posted about her experience in online groups and was ‘‘blown away’’ by the support.

Australian Breastfeeding Association NSW branch spokeswoman Nicole Bridges said women were entitled to breastfeed in restaurants, but could be asked to leave at over-18 venues.

She said under the federal Sex Discrimination Act it was unlawful to discriminate against a person breastfeeding, directly or indirectly.

Restaurant & Catering Industry Association chief executive John Hart said restaurants had control over who was allowed in their business.

He said when the person was not a customer, it was a ‘‘close and shut’’ case they could be asked to leave.