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Barneys workers at a Scottsdale, Ariz., mall refused to let a nursing mother into the dressing rooms to feed her 4-month-old baby, directing her instead to the store's bathrooms. Which, ew.
Andrea O'Dowd, 32, said she was told by staffers that she couldn't use the fitting rooms of the swanky clothing retailer to nurse baby Serena due to "loss prevention" rules. In other words, Barneys couldn't be sure the baby girl wasn't just a ruse so O'Dowd could go in there to steal stuff.
O'Dowd offered to let them search her stroller and diaper bag, but they didn't want to. Instead, they explained where she could be accomodated.
"They tried to tell me to use their bathroom, which didn't have an area to feed or change a little one, just stalls," she posted on Facebook.
"I was kind of telling her, 'how ridiculous, why can't I go in there'—I was choking back my tears," she said.
The new mom had gone into the retailer, after she saw mall bathrooms did not have chairs—or anywhere besides the toilets—to sit on for her to nurse. Shopping moms are often faced with few accommodations for breastfeeding, outside the very public benches inside the malls, which become another battleground for deciding whether feeding one's baby in public is OK.
O'Dowd told the New York Daily News that she complained to Barneys but hasn't heard back yet from the retailers, which is why she posted about her situation on Facebook.
Nursing moms in Arizona are allowed to breastfeed their babies anywhere—in private or in public, as long as they are authorized to be in that particular public or private place. Women are allowed to go into fitting rooms in Barneys, including with their infants, so O'Dowd should not have been kept from going in.
A spokesperson for Barneys issued a statement saying that the company would review its policies and training around lactation at all their store locations.
This is not the first time the high-end luxury retailer has been in the news for a hostile environment to at least some of its customers.
A year and a half ago, Barneys paid $525,000 in fines to settle claims brought against it for racial profiling. And just last month, they settled for $45,000 for a claim that NYPD and Barneys in another racial profiling claim, this time with the NYPD. Security at the Upper East Side New York City store detained Trayon Christian, who is black, after he bought a $349 belt with his debit card.