After stumbling upon Jessica’s recent post about Toys ‘R Us allegedly harrassing a breastfeeding mother, TRU’s PR manager forwarded us two letters that went out today to the New York Civil Liberties Union in a clear effort to try and stave off the NYCLU’s veiled threat of a lawsuit. One is from Gerald L. Storch, Chairman and CEO of TRU, the other, from Mindy Clements, the general manager of the Times Square TRU store where this all took place, who says she is “also a new mother” and that she feels she is “especially sensitive to issues involving a mother’s right to breastfeed where she chooses”.
Of course, these are most assuredly carefully crafted bits of PR, but given that this whole incident seems to be hearsay and in the interest of objectivity, I’m reprinting both letters here. Read them in their entirety after the jump:
Elisabeth Ryden Benjamin
Director, Reproductive Rights Project
New York Civil Liberties Union
125 Broad Street, 19th Floor
New York, New York 10004
Re: Ms. Chelsi Meyerson
Dear Ms. Benjamin:
I have received your letter, dated September 14, 2006, concerning the events that took place at Toys “R” Us’ Times Square store on September 11, 2006 involving Ms. Chelsi Meyerson. I have forwarded your letter to Mindy Clements, the General Manager of Toys “R” Us’ Times Square for a response addressing the facts of this matter. However, I believe that a personal response is appropriate as well.
Toys “R” Us agrees with the New York Civil Liberties Union that we should do everything we can to provide for the best interests of our customers — moms, kids and families. Toys “R” Us does maintain a company-wide policy that any mother may breastfeed her child in the place of her choice within our stores. Beyond that, all of our Babies “R” Us stores have dedicated rooms for breastfeeding mothers. These rooms are clean, comfortable, safe and private, and we have spent significant amounts of money to provide this option for our customers. Our Times Square store, in particular, has a private area designated for this purpose. We are proud to offer this accommodation to those mothers who are more comfortable breastfeeding their children in a private environment, and it is our experience that many mothers prefer this alternative. However, we are equally respectful of the preference of other mothers — which, in New York, is their legal right — to breastfeed their children in the place of their choice within our stores.
A positive store experience for all our customers is important to Toys “R” Us, and we take this opportunity to reaffirm our commitment to nursing mothers. In this instance, as I understand the facts, Toys “R” Us acted in accordance with New York law and our own policy. However, I have asked Ms. Clements to contact Ms. Meyerson personally to address her concerns.
Very truly yours,
TOYS “R” US, INC.
Gerald L. Storch
Chairman and Chief Executive Officer
Dear Ms. Benjamin:
Your letter to Toys “R” Us’ Chairman and Chief Executive Officer, Gerald L. Storch, dated September 14, 2006, was forwarded to me for response. I am the General Manager of Toys “R” Us’ Times Square store. I am also a new mother and feel that I am especially sensitive to issues involving a mother’s right to breastfeed where she chooses and the events that took place at our store on September 11, 2006 involving Ms. Chelsi Meyerson.
I have spoken to the employees who communicated with Ms. Meyerson, and the facts are quite different from those alleged in your letter and reported in the press. Specifically, it is my understanding that several employees involved offered Ms. Meyerson the opportunity to breastfeed in a private area designated for this purpose in the Times Square store. When Ms. Meyerson expressed her preference to continue breastfeeding her child where she was, in accordance with our company policy, she was permitted to do so. No harassment occurred and Ms. Meyerson was neither escorted from, nor asked to leave, the store.
Based on my investigation, Toys “R” Us acted in accordance with New York law and our own policy that any mother may breastfeed her child in the place of her choice within our stores. The Times Square store does have a comfortable, private area designated for this purpose, and it is our experience that many mothers who visit the Times Square store take advantage of this option.
We are always disappointed when a customer is dissatisfied with their experience at our store. Accordingly, I will be contacting Ms. Meyerson directly to address her concerns. To the extent that she felt harassed or embarrassed by the efforts of our employees, we certainly apologize, and it is my understanding that the manager on duty apologized to Ms. Meyerson at the time.
Very truly yours,
TOYS “R” US, INC.
General Manager – Toys “R” Us Times Square
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