A woman, who claimed she was told to cover up while breastfeeding at a Texas Roadhouse restaurant, filed a lawsuit for “extreme and severe emotional distress.”
Sadie Durbin filed the lawsuit on Monday in Jefferson County Circuit Court stemming from an incident on Thursday, according to documents obtained by the Louisville Courier-Journal. In the lawsuit, Durbin claimed that while she was dining at a Texas Roadhouse in Louisville, she began to breastfeed her 7-month-old child.
The suit alleged that an employee approached her with a napkin and attempted to cover the child’s face, which Durbin said was “offensive and unwanted.” Named in the lawsuit is Texas Roadhouse’s corporate office, according to the Louisville Courier-Journal because the company failed to train employees not to interfere with a mother’s right to breastfeed. Newsweek reached out to Durbin but did not receive a response in time for publication.
Following the incident, Durbin posted about the experience on Facebook, during which she said she explained to the employee that it was within her rights to feed her child in the restaurant.
“He didn’t apologize. He didn’t acknowledge he was wrong. He said, ‘Well as a manager I am obligated to tell you we are getting complaints and ask you to cover up,’ threw the napkin down in front of me, and angrily walked away with a huff,” Durbin wrote.
Durbin added that in contrast to the alleged dismissive treatment she received, the employee “sweetly” placed a hand on the shoulder of the customer who complained and said that he spoke to Durbin, who refused to cover up.
“I wish I’d at least been given the same respect when he tried throwing a napkin over my infant’s head,” Durbin wrote.
Travis Doster, Senior Director of Communications for Texas Roadhouse, told Newsweek that the company hasn’t been served a lawsuit, yet, and therefore couldn’t comment on it. However, he addressed the incident and said that there’s a discrepancy between whether the napkin was offered or thrown.
Durbin said the employee threw the napkin at her child, but Doster said the restaurant spoke to multiple sources who said the employee approached the woman with a black napkin and said, “Can I offer you a cover-up?”
There is security footage of the incident, but Doster said he couldn’t share details about what was recorded because of the lawsuit.
“We allow breastfeeding in any of our public spaces,” Doster said. “We also have family restrooms we put in as an additional measure. This is the first issue, that I know of, that we’ve ever had.”
Kentucky law prohibits anyone from interfering with a mother who is breastfeeding her child in any location where the mother is otherwise authorized to be. Doster said that in the wake of the incident, the company had a conference call with all stores in the area reminding them of the law and the company’s commitment to nursing mothers.
Doster claimed the company tried to contact Durbin and called it “unfortunate” the two parties could not sit down and have a conversation. Doster said the employee involved in the incident is currently out on paid time off as a safety precaution because he and his children were allegedly receiving death threats.
In her lawsuit, the Louisville Courier-Journal reported that Durbin is seeking compensatory damages, punitive damages, attorney’s fees and other undisclosed amounts of financial compensation.