A Skokie woman who was breastfeeding in a Cook County courthouse is suing the county and Sheriff Tom Dart after she says she was asked to relocate from the lobby to a public bathroom.
Natalie Petrovic, 21, was at the county Municipal Courthouse in Skokie waiting to apply for food-assistance benefits when she covered herself with a blanket and began to breastfeed her daughter, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. According to the suit, a female deputy asked Petrovic to stop breastfeeding or move to the bathroom.
The April 18 incident was the first time Petrovic breastfed her daughter Lisette, then 7 weeks old, in public, and told CBS Chicago she was shocked when the deputy told her to stop.
“It got me really frustrated that this woman, she’s a sheriff’s [deputy] and she didn’t know what people’s rights are,” Petrovic told the station. According to the suit, the new mom opted not to relocate to the restroom, which she says would have been "unsanitary, uncomfortable and degrading."
In her lawsuit, Petrovic cites the Illinois Right to Breastfeed Act passed in 2004, which lifted all restrictions on breastfeeding in public and private locations, regardless of whether or not one is covered, according to Fox Chicago. The suit is seeking an injunction to enforce those rights in the courthouse, plus attorney's fees and the cost of the suit.
Petrovic told ABC Chicago that she hopes the suit will help reaffirm mothers' rights in the courthouse and across the state.
"I need to take action," said Petrovic. "For me, not only for me, for my daughter and for any woman who tries to breastfeed."
The sheriff's office has not yet responded to requests for comment.