WILMINGTON, Ill.(CBS) — A southwest suburban mother says she was humiliated and left a restaurant dining room because she was breastfeeding her baby.
Illinois law is on her side and in this Original Report, CBS 2’s Jim Williams tells us dozens of other nursing moms came to her aid with threats of a protest outside the restaurant in Wilmington.READ MORE: Blackhawks GM Stan Bowman Has 'Stepped Aside' Following Independent Probe Into 2010 Sexual Assault Claim Against Former Coach
It was in her van, holding her baby Ronan, that Kristal Tomko said she sobbed over the weekend.
“I’m so embarrassed… I’m dumbfounded,” she said.
Moments before at a family gathering, she was breastfeeding Ronan, a-six month-old, in the dining room of the Big Fish restaurant in Wilmington.
She was approached by a manager holding a napkin.
“She said ‘I’m sorry, I really need you to cover up if you’re going to nurse one of our patrons is complaining,’” Tomko said. “I was stunned.”
Kristal refused, so Big Fish owner John Mathias made another plea.
“Other customers are feeling uncomfortable….the private dining room in the back is empty,” Mathias said.READ MORE: SWAT Teams On Scene For Hours As Man Barricades Himself In Lemont Township Home With Child
Illinois law does allow breast feeding in public, explains breast feeding advocate Sara Castongia.
“Just because you personally may not be comfortable with somebody doing something doesn’t mean you can dictate how they behave,” Castongia said. “She was well within her legal rights.”
Castongia and hundreds of other nursing moms were so outraged, they organized a protest set for this Friday outside the restaurant.
“I am sorry. If they come in again, I’ll never say a word. They can do whatever they want,” Mathias said.
Still, Kristal Tomko is smarting.
“My stomach’s still in a knot,” she said. “Like I’m very uncomfortable being here right now.”
Now that the owner has apologized and made that promise, the nursing moms have called off the protest outside the restaurant.MORE NEWS: Data Show More Than 100 Carjackings In Austin Community This Year, Just 5 Not Far Away In Hermosa
The right to breastfeed in public became Illinois law in 2004.