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Breastfeeding mom kicked out of locker room | News

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Breastfeeding mom kicked out of locker room
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BUFORD, Ga. -- A letter promising change was sent to a Georgia mom after she was kicked out of a locker room after trying to breastfeed. 

Caroline Hoffman was wearing her 7-month-old son Elliott in a baby carrier in the locker room of the L.A. Fitness in Buford when she was asked to leave. Caroline feeds Elliott in the carrier, snuggled close to her body, and covered with a drape. Despite the discrete method of feeding, she was told it's not allowed because children are not allowed in the gym's locker rooms. Hoffman told 11Alive's Julie Wolfe she was embarrassed. She didn't know about the rule, because there were no posted signs. 

When she asked where she could breastfeed her son, she was given two options: the bathroom stall in the kids club area, or the chair near the front door. 

"I was looking for a solution that would take me out of a disgusting bathroom stall and keep my breasts from being exposed to every member entering and exiting," she said. When she asked for another location, and suggested a chair in the children's area, she was told "we cannot accommodate that request".  The gym offers daycare for young children, but no place to breastfeed them. 

"They need to provide reasonable accommodation to their clients who choose heath and wellness for their baby by breastfeeding, and choose heath and wellness for themselves by being members of  the gym," she said. Caroline said workers at the gym told her babies were not allowed anywhere else in the facility due to "liability reasons". 

It's not the first time the fitness chain has incurred the wrath of breastfeeding moms. In 2014, moms staged a nurse-in at a California L.A. Fitness after a breastfeeding woman was kicked out of their locker room. In June of that year, the L.A. Fitness sent a memo to all California employees citing the state's law: “Notwithstanding any other provision of law, a mother may breastfeed her child in any location, public or private, except the private home or residence of another, where the mother and the child are otherwise authorized to be present.” 

That move was specific to gyms in California, but it appears all L.A. Fitness gyms are operating under a similar understanding. According to a letter sent to Caroline, she received wrong information when she was kicked out of the locker room in Buford. 

Wednesday morning, she recieved a response to her complaint signed by a L.A. Fitness district manager:

Dear Caroline,

What you had to go through yesterday was terrible. I am sincerely sorry your experience went the way it did. I have been made aware that since sending your email, you were contacted by the Operations Manager, Nima, in which he apologized for giving you wrong information.

To clarify - you (and every Mother) are permitted to breastfeed anywhere in the gym you would normally be. This includes the locker room and Kids Klub. I will ensure every staff member, at every gym, is educated on this policy to prevent any future occurrences of this nature.

Going forward we will also ensure there is a chair available in the Kids Klub for breastfeeding Mothers to utilize. Once again I apologize for the embarrassment you were put through. Please feel free to contact me directly if you have any questions or further concerns.

Sincerely,
Kevin Suggs
District Operations Manager

11Alive reached out to Suggs for an additional comment and an opportunity to go on camera. We have not heard back. 

 

Caroline says, despite the apology letter, she doesn't feel comfortable returning to the Buford gym. She's breastfed Elliott at the Georgia Aquarium, Falcons games, Delta planes, inside grocery stores and retail outlets. She's never had any other problems, so she knows breastfeeding in public can be comfortable. She plans to take her gym business to a location that meets those expectations. 


11Alive's Julie Wolfe is multimedia journalist and Manager of Social Media and Engagement. She's also a new mom and passionate about covering news that affects kids and families in the Metro Atlanta area.


11Alive's Valerie Hoff is a reporter specializing on stories Holding the Powerful Accountable. Her consumer safety and accountability stories appear daily in 11Alive's evening newscasts at 5:00 and 6:00. 


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