Breastfeeding mother claims she was asked to leave a Montreal courtroom

Click to play video: 'Montreal woman told she couldn’t breastfeed at municipal courthouse' Montreal woman told she couldn’t breastfeed at municipal courthouse
A Montreal woman is furious after being told she could not breastfeed her baby inside a courtroom at the Montreal municipal courthouse. Global's Anne Leclair has more – Jun 14, 2019

A young mother is outraged after she says a security guard at the Montreal municipal courthouse threatened to kick her out of the courtroom if she continued breastfeeding her baby.

The young mother is planning to file complaints over the incident. One constitutional rights lawyer isn’t convinced the judge was completely in the wrong in this case.

Callie Jones is furious over an incident that she said left her and her fiancé completely embarrassed and insulted.

According to the 19-year-old mother, she was asked to leave a Montreal municipal courtroom on Thursday after she started breastfeeding her three-month old daughter.

“About a minute into me breastfeeding I started getting dirty looks from one of the women who was sitting underneath the judge,” Callie Jones said. “Then she called over the security guard and pointed at me.” Jones said she was then approached by the security guard and told that she wasn’t allowed to breastfeed in court.

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“The security came over and was like can you please stop breastfeeding, it’s making people uncomfortable,” Jones told Global News. In the end, the couple was allowed to stay since the baby quickly stopped nursing, but the whole ordeal has left them with a bad taste in their mouth.

“Personally, I feel a little embarrassed that we would have to exit somewhere when it’s kind of a right of ours to be able to do that,” the baby’s father Taylor Keens-Douglas said.

The young couple is in the process of filing multiple complaints against the courthouse and with the Quebec human rights commission, but Julius Grey, a constitutional rights lawyer, isn’t convinced they would win.

“Certainly everybody has a right to breastfeed or not and in general any measures to stop her would be invalid – but there could be restrictions,” Grey said.

A mother’s right to breastfeed feed her baby is covered by the Charter of Rights and Freedoms under the clause that forbids discrimination based on sex. A judge however has the right to enforce the dress code in the courtroom.

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“The law says that everybody has to be appropriately dressed,” Grey said. He cited a similar yet unrelated case where his client, Rania El-Alloul, won her challenge against a judge who refused to hear her testimony because she was wearing a hijab.

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“There are situations where a court would want to exclude breastfeeding, for instance if the child was in other ways disrupting the court,” Grey told Global News.

Jones insists her baby wasn’t being disruptive, and claims the very reason she started to feed her was to avoid having her fuss in the courtroom.

“It made me feel very violated and upset especially since my daughter is three months old and she can’t go two hours without feeding,” Jones said.

After consulting with courthouse employees, the city released a statement explaining that there was never an attempt or intention to remove the woman from the courtroom.

“The interventions made by the court clerk and the security guard were only meant to direct the woman and her baby to a quieter, more private place in order to insure their comfort,” read the statement.

The statement mentions that she was even offered a cubicle and notes that the “baby cried at a certain point,” something Jones adamantly denies.

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