***UPDATE*** In response to the original letter to Picture People about employees telling mothers not to nurse in the studios we had a phone conversation with Picture People Vice President of Studio Operations, Nancy Patton. She assured us that Picture People will be doing additional training and that it is already corporate policy that mothers can feed their babies however and where ever they are comfortable doing so. She will also be passing on to the marketing team our feedback that they eliminate "holding their own bottle" from their advertising campaign.
The original email that was sent is below.
President/CEO Lisa Berman
The Picture People Inc.
1157 Triton Dr STE B
Foster City, CA 94404
Picture People President Lisa Berman,
Several reports have surfaced recently claiming that employees at The Picture People have descriminated against breastfeeding mothers.
In one report, on Friday, January 20, 2006, at 7:45 p.m. a mother was in the Steamtown Mall Picture People store in Scranton, Pennsylvania, waiting for her pictures to be ready, with her hungry 7 month old son. She asked the Picture People employee at the desk if it would be OK to nurse him. The employee told her no and that she would need to use their bathroom. A few days later, the mother phoned the customer service department and spoke with an employee who said it is company policy that breastfeeding in the store is not allowed, but bottle feeding is fine. The mother was additionally shocked to receive in the mail an ad from Picture People that read "It happened this morning. She held her own bottle. It was quite a moment of independence. Is college right around the corner? Don't worry that day is thousands of firsts away."
In another report (http://www.kvbc.com/Global/story.asp?S=4918046&nav=menu107_2_2), in May of 2006 at Meadows Mall in Las Vegas, a mother was told by empolyees at The Picture People that it was against their policy to take a picture of a baby breastfeeding because nursing is sexual or indecent. (The mother went to get a picture of her baby nursing because she received an advertisement implying mothers should come in and get a picture of their babies holding a bottle.)
I hope that your company policy is to allow breastfeeding in your stores (not just in the bathrooms). If perhaps, the employees at the Scranton and Las Vegas Picture People stores were new and not properly trained, your training procedure may need to be redesigned so that "new" employees do not continue to deny nursing moms their
right to breastfeed, in your stores in Pennsylvania, Nevada, or elsewhere. I hope your company policy allows pictures to be taken of babies nursing. Breastfeeding is not indecent exposure or nudity.
I know your stores are in many states across the US, such as Oregon, California, Texas, Illinois, New York, etc. And you might be interested to research the laws that protect a mother's right to nurse in public which often read something like "a mother may breastfeed her baby in any location, public or private, where the mother is otherwise authorized to be." (http://www.lalecheleague.org/LawBills.html) Also, many state laws explicitly clarify that:
* "A motherís breastfeeding of her baby does not under any circumstances constitute 'sexual conduct.'"
* "These statutes exclude breastfeeding from various sexual offenses, from the definition of an unnatural and lascivious act."
* "Breastfeeding a child shall not be considered an act of public indecency and shall not be considered indecent exposure, sexual conduct, lewd touching, or obscenity."
*"Indecent exposure does not include an act of breast-feeding by a mother."
Please announce your breastfeeding policy and educate all stores and employees about a nursing mother's rights. This includes respecting mothers' freedom to nurse where and when they choose, with or without covering. Also, please remove the statement from your advertising that implies babies need to be bottle-fed and do a
general revamping of your advertisements.
I look forward to your reply informing me about the actions you are taking.