Mother shamed for breastfeeding toddler files intent to sue
A woman who was breastfeeding her 2-year-old daughter at a Sussex County pond when an employee called the police because she wasn't covered up says that she might file a lawsuit.
Michelle Ayala says that her attorney sent a letter to Franklin Borough officials citing the intent to sue for $1 million in damages, unless the town "does the right thing." Ayala says that she wants a true apology and social awareness.
"I don't think that it's something that needs to be crucified. It's something that needs to be honored and respected,” Ayala says.
Ayala was with her three children at Franklin Pond on July 31 when a borough employee told her she had to cover up or the police would be called. Ayala told the worker she was allowed by law to nurse, and the worker called the cops.
In the 911 call, the borough employee can be heard saying, "I have a woman breastfeeding her child with everything hanging out and it's uncomfortable for my lifeguards and some of the other people sitting on the beach. It’s not a baby, the little girl is of walking age."
The police did come, but determined that Ayala did not break any laws or ordinances.
"Do I want to be nursing my toddler who's doing jumping jacks and flipping up and down on me? No. But in the moments that she needs comfort or she needs to go down for a nap, people use pacifiers, people use bottles, people rock their children,” says Ayala.
The borough issued an apology through its attorney, John Ursin. Ursin told News 12 New Jersey that during periodic training for borough employees, they highlighted the rights of breastfeeding mothers.
Ayala says that at the time she wanted an in-person apology and for town officials to attend a “nurse-in” that she staged. When that did not happen, her attorney filed the tort notice for $1 million. But Ayala says that it is not about the money.
"That's a number. That's insane. The town's budget is literally a million dollars,” she says. "I want something to happen like signs posted or an event that happens every year in this town that’s [says] breastfeeding is normal, it is common, it is natural, it is OK. That's what I want."
The Franklin Borough attorney says that when it comes to an event promoting breast feeding awareness, if it is in the best interest of both parties, it is something the town would consider.
The Associated Press wire services contributed to this report.