COLUMBUS (WCMH) – A local mother says a worker at the Franklin County Department of Job and Family Services shamed her into covering up while breastfeeding her newborn.
Olivia Pack said she ended up having to feed her child in the women’s restroom. The department has started an investigation into the allegation. A spokeswoman said staff hadn’t reported any issues involving breastfeeding in the building recently.
“No, and they never told me anything about it either. We didn’t see it. We didn’t hear about it. They just told me to either cover up or you know, kind of, get out,” said Pack.
Pack claims she is still shocked over the treatment she says she got just a week ago at the Franklin County Department of Job and Family Services. This new mother said she was there to make a better life for her family.
“I was getting Title 20 so I could go to college get to daycare. Kingston (her baby) was asleep for a little bit. He was OK. He wasn’t crying. Then he woke up and started to cry. There was no room for me to feed. Nothing to do except feed him right there so that we do not lose your spot in line and so that he wouldn’t cry while we were in line,” said Olivia Pack.
Her sister Autumn Pack who was waiting with her with in complete shock.
“She said you need to cover up so they can stop staring at you. There maybe three little boys there under the age of 4 who had no idea what was going on,” said Autumn Pack.
Olivia Pack went to the women’s restroom to feed her crying baby and her sister Autumn followed. Autumn was so upset she posted a picture on social media that gained a lot of shares and comments.
NBC4 reached out to the Franklin County Department of Job and family Services.
No one was available to talk on camera, but they did send a statement.
Women make up a large portion of our customer base and it is not unusual for mothers to breastfeed in our lobbies. However, if mothers want that privacy while at the Northland Center, there are three private rooms nursing mothers can use – a lactation room that is attached to the women’s bathroom or one of two family restrooms.
Franklin County Department of Job and Family Services management would like to underscore that women have the legal right to breast feed in public.
We have not had any reported problems from staff in our lobbies due to breastfeeding last Wednesday, last week or in the past month. It is worth noting the Franklin County Sheriff’s Office deputies who are in both the first and second floor lobbies during business hours were also unaware of any issues.
We sincerely regret that this mother felt uncomfortable. That is not something we would condone. We will continue to look into this allegation and are requesting the footage from the security cameras be pulled for that day to see if the recordings can provide any additional clarification.
We are also requesting additional information from this customer simply because customers who come to the Northland Center do not have to wait in line. They take a number and are asked to wait in a separate room that is exclusively for childcare customers.Jodi Andes, deputy director of Communications for the Franklin County Department of Job and Family Services
The department sent us video which showed a room for nursing mothers with a sign on the door.
The statement also stated “We sincerely regret that this mother felt uncomfortable. That is not something we would condone. We will continue to look into this allegation and are requesting the footage from the security cameras to be pulled for that day to see if the recordings can provide any additional clarification.”
The spokeswoman also told me she hopes to speak with Olivia to get more information from her regarding this situation. We will stay on top of this and bring you the latest information as we get it.