A public swimming pool in the British Isles has shelled out £2,000 (about $2,900 USD) as a settlement to a woman after she was asked to leave while breastfeeding.
During a dip in the Western Pool in Peel on the Isle of Man in 2014, Victoria Hodgson says she was “humiliated” after being asked to get out of the water. She had been breastfeeding her then-four-month-old daughter Amelia.
According to The Guardian, the pool manager told Hodgson’s husband what she was doing was considered an “indecency and nudity issue” and that it was distracting and disturbing to some of the younger lifeguards.
When the couple and their four kids returned a week later, Hodgson says she was told again to stop breastfeeding. That’s when she decided to seek legal action against the pool.
In her case, she claimed the pool staff stepped on her legal right to breastfeed in public, citing the Isle of Man’s Breastfeeding Act and the Equalities Act in England as guarantees.
Hodgson got the settlement earlier this year, according to the pool board chairman Adrian Christian. He said the settlement was offered because legal costs would be more than anything rewarded by a judge. Christian says he disputes Hodgson’s story, claiming her other children couldn’t have been supervised while she was breastfeeding.
He also claimed that Hodgson quoted the Breastfeeding Act about how much she could get if they pool didn’t comply, adding the pool spent money investigating her claim. Since this incident, the Western Pool has a new breastfeeding policy which states women of course may breastfeed, but only in designated areas like the café and the changing rooms and spectators’ areas.
Pool staff have also been instructed on how to deal with women who are breastfeeding in the pool.
Victoria Hodgson’s case isn’t an isolated one, though. Earlier this month, a woman brought a suit against another pool in England for £20,000 (about $29,000 USD) after being asked to not breastfeed her baby in pool while the wave machine was on. The case is still pending.