FORT MYERS, Fla. – It’s opening weekend for the movie “Bad Moms,” and a Regal movie theater in south Fort Myers has encountered some mad moms.
Lia Denison was among them.
“Then when I heard other women saying ‘He’s telling her she needs to cover up,'” said Denison, “I started crying.”
Her friend, Juliana Valverde, was asked to cover up while breastfeeding and then given a choice.
“That ultimatum,” said Valverde. “[The employee] was like ‘You can either cover up or you can leave.’ I was just, at that point, I was so hurt and walked away. Tears came down.”
Valverde was with a group of about 50 women to see the movie. A couple of mothers brought their children. There’s just one problem: Regal’s policy does not allow children age six and under to attend R-rated films — even with a parent.
“They were outside dealing with the manager trying to get things squared away,” said Amber Cebull. “But what ended up happening was he was unwilling to budge on the policy.”
Cebull says while talking with the manager in the lobby, the moms claim the manager went too far. They say he requested Valverde cover up while breastfeeding her baby.
“They can’t go everywhere,” said Cebull. “People don’t want them in restaurants, people don’t want them in other places, people don’t want them nursing in public. Where are moms supposed to go?”
State law allows women to breastfeed in any public or private location.
Daniel Garza with Wilbur Smith Attorneys at Law sat down with us to talk more about the case.
“Somebody can’t stop the mom from breastfeeding,” said Garza.
But he also says there’s an important question to answer.
“Was this mother kicked out because of the policy or because she was breastfeeding?” asked Garza. “That’s what we need to determine.”
We reached out to one mother that says some moms did re-enter the movie but were caught by a manager and asked to leave.
We reached out to Regal but have not heard back.
Whether policy was broken or not, Juliana Valverde feels her rights were violated.
“There’s always people that are going to feel uncomfortable and they shouldn’t,” said Valverde. “I don’t need anyone’s approval to feed my baby.”