Staff at a TFI Friday restaurant are being criticised for asking a new mum to use the accessible toilets to breastfeed her baby.
Jessi Ferguson, 23, was enjoying a meal in Stockton-On-Tees last Friday with her eight-week-old son Louis and her mum Catherine.
When she asked where would be an appropriate place to breastfeed because her table was not a suitable height she was directed to the toilet reserved for disabled customers.
Catherine, 47, told Metro.co.uk: ‘It was kind of disbelief really, in this day and age I couldn’t believe that was what was being suggested.
‘I was furious that was the situation we had been put in. Especially in Covid times, those toilets aren’t deep cleaned after every use.
‘After she came out the toilet she was distraught. Louis was still crying, she was just in a state and quite rightly from my point of view.’
Catherine said she believed the family should had been moved to a lower table.
Jessi shared her disappointment on Facebook, the post was seen by the TGI Friday manager who apologised and gave the family a free meal.
Despite reimbursing the bill Catherine said: ‘It doesn’t make up for the fact my grandson has just had to have his meal on a toilet. She was literally sitting on the toilet to feed him.
‘We thought it would be a really nice opportunity to go out for some food.
‘That’s the first time, since he’s been born, that Jessi has been out with him and will she do it again? I think the experience has put her off going out.
‘Breastfeeding is hard enough but Jessi can only feed in one position, she’s tried different positions.
‘I was furious, I was in disbelief and just really, really saddened.
‘Yeah we had a choice to leave the restaurant but we didn’t, it’s difficult to make a choice in the moment.’
Catherine hopes the restaurant will learn from their mistakes and, in future, treat new mums with respect.
‘I would hope that they look at breastfeeding training as something that should be core training rather than just an add on,’ she said.
‘I think everyone in the restaurant should have a responsibility to know what they can do to support people who are breastfeeding.
‘It was just a very unfortunate, hideous experience that hopefully everyone can learn from.’
In a statement TGI Fridays said: ‘On this occasion, a misunderstanding by a new team member resulted in a customer being told that the disabled toilets were the only place in the restaurant they could breastfeed their child.
‘This is not the case, Friday’s policy is that guests are encouraged to breastfeed in our restaurants, wherever they feel comfortable. ‘The manager on duty apologised unreservedly to the guest during their visit and reimbursed them for their meal to apologise for the mistake.’
From 2010 TV ads claimed TGI Fridays claimed the initials stood for ‘Thank Goodness It’s Friday’ despite the original title ‘Thank God It’s Friday’.
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