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Elizabeth Gooding's complaint claimed the Ocean Community YMCA violated Rhode Island's Civil Rights Act and is guilty of gender discrimination.

Rhode Island YMCA Reaches Settlement in Breastfeeding Lawsuit

Yoga teacher Elizabeth Gooding said she was twice asked in 2015 to not breastfeed near the Ocean Community YMCA's child-care area because "young boys" would see her, according to a complaint filed in Washington County Superior Court.

A lawsuit over a mother's right to breastfeed her daughter inside a Rhode Island YMCA has been settled for an undisclosed amount, according to a Dec. 10 report by the Associated Press.

In February 2015, Elizabeth Gooding—a former yoga teacher at the Ocean Community YMCA, Westerly, Rhode Island—said she was twice asked to not breastfeed near the center's child-care area because "young boys" would see her, according to a complaint filed in Washington County Superior Court.

Gooding later met with local Y President Maureen Fitzgerald, who asked her to be more “discreet” about her breastfeeding, the complaint said. Eventually, Gooding was no longer permitted to bring her daughter to the mother-and-baby yoga class she taught. Shortly after, she stopped working at the Y and filed her complaint with representation from the American Civil Liberties Union of Rhode Island.

Gooding's complaint claimed the Y violated Rhode Island's Civil Rights Act and is guilty of gender discrimination.

In a May 2017 Washington Post article, YMCA spokesman Brad McDermott suggested the incident could be attributed to young or part-time employees who are unaware of state policies and "simply not exposed to breast-feeding on a regular basis.

“Breast-feeding is something we actively encourage of mothers and families who are members of the YMCA, and something we support in accordance with the recommendation of the American Academy of Pediatrics,” McDermott told the Post.


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