RI ACLU Files Lawsuit Against Westerly YMCA for Violating Woman’s Right to Breastfeed
Sunday, May 14, 2017
GoLocalProv News Team
The suit claims that the facility repeatedly prohibited Gooding from breastfeeding her baby in public, in violation of state anti-discrimination laws and a statute specifically allowing breastfeeding in public.
“I am speaking out for women who have been shamed, degraded, harassed, or otherwise prevented from nurturing their children by breastfeeding. Following the extremely upsetting incidents of breastfeeding discrimination at the YMCA, I made a choice that I would take a stand in hopes of enacting effective change in support of one of our most natural civil rights. I encourage women who face breastfeeding discrimination not to be silenced but to raise your voice,” said Gooding.
Gooding is a mother of three and a former Ocean Community YMCA employee and member. The complaint claims that in February 2015, while nursing her one-year-old infant in the YMCA’s daycare area, Gooding was told by YMCA employees that she could not breastfeed her child. After the incident, several YMCA supervisors confirmed that she would not be allowed to breastfeed in public due to “concerns about young boys.”
A month later, Gooding again attempted to breastfeed her daughter there, and was again told by staff and supervisors that she could not nurse publicly. Gooding then spoke directly with Maureen Fitzgerald, the Ocean Community YMCA President and CEO, who denied that there was any need to change the center’s public breastfeeding policy, refused to hold a training for employees, and added that Gooding should be “more discreet.”
The complaint notes that later in 2015, after the above incidents happened, Gooding was told that she could no longer bring her baby to the mom/baby yoga class that she taught.
The suit was filed in Rhode Island Superior Court.
John Tarantino — Big cases. Big reach. And big influence.
Tarantino has headed big cases like the defense of the state’s pension reforms and fought against Rhode Island representing the paint industry in the protracted lead paint litigation.
Michael Kelly — Street fighting litigator that is happy to take on cities, the state, big companies - it does not matter.
Kelly’s cases are often controversial and nuclear. Recently, he beat the Department of Health on the suspension of former State Senator/pharmacist Leo Blais.
Nothing's dull when Kelly is involved.
Mike Sweeney — From Alex and Ani to BENRUS to representing one of the top venture funds in the region, Sweeney is half corporate attorney and half business consultant.
The co-founder of Duffy and Sweeney, he has been one of the most strategically smart advisers in the state.
Frank Williams - The former Chief Justice has been assigned to navigate pension lawsuits, 38 Studios and the Providence Firefighters’ battle with the City of Providence.
He may have more influence and make more money in his new role then he did when he served as Chief Justice.
As GoLocal wrote in April 2015, “Yet like so much of Williams' career in the public eye, the appointment was not without some degree of controversy. Williams will be paid $400 per hour for his work on the case, (according to a wpri.com report) and that fact led to criticisms on social media and talk radio.
Williams’ ability to become a lightning rod has been confounding to both Williams and his friends alike.”
Maureen McKenna Goldberg — Think Diana Ross. She is the lead of the Supremes. Nothing happens in the hallowed chambers of the Rhode Island State Supreme Court without Goldberg’s stamp on it.
With her husband, lobbyist Bob Goldberg making millions in lobbying fees and representing some of the most powerful business interests in business, their reach is wide and deep.
If you want to know what is really happening in the state, then get on their boat one weekend and keep quiet and listen.
Zach Darrow — Busy building one of the most dynamic business law firms in the state, complete with nearly a dozen real estate and corporate attorneys. Add to his mix a lobbying arm that functions like Pac-Man when it comes to tax stabilization agreements.
Darrow’s reach may be a little more complex than many see - the firm now has offices in New York and Miami.
Everyone took note when former Providence City Solicitor and Chief of Staff to Treasurer Seth Magaziner, Jeff Padwa, joined the firm earlier this summer. Darrow moves in mysterious ways.
Michael Forte - Stealth. Forte doesn’t get much press and he likes it that way. The new Chief Judge of the Family Court has a low-profile public persona, but is a growing power in the judiciary.
A Democratic legislator who was appointed to the bench under Governor Ed DiPrete, Forte has amassed some serious power-wattage in Rhode Island.
Knows Both Sides
Artin Coloian - He has enjoyed of the most complicated and seemingly paradoxical careers, as a staffer to both U.S. Senator John Chafee and Mayor Vincent “Buddy” Cianci. A political advisor (and donor) to many — his campaign finance report ranges from Governor Gina Raimondo to GOP Cranston Mayor Allan Fung to Progressive Representative Aaron Regunberg.
Now, Coloian is one of the top criminal attorneys in Rhode Island. He has represented everyone from mobster Bobby DeLuca to Councilman Kevin Jackson to drug kingpins.
Chris Graham — Whether it is a start-up looking to close venture funding or a biotech looking at acquisition, Graham is a skilled craftsman that makes deals happen.
Understated, Graham is now a managing partner at Locke Lord (formerly Edwards and Angell). He is been through all of the firms mergers and transformations and had quietly continued to make deals happen.
Henry Kinch — Once a top advisor to then-Governor Bruce Sundlun and now serves as the Clerk of Providence County Courts.
Kinch is highly respected in and out of the court. When smart political people want advice they call Kinch.
His network extends far beyond Benefit Street. He served as President of the Pawtucket City Council and lost to Don Grebien for Mayor in 2010.
Could a political comeback be in the making?
Behind the Scenes
Claire Richards — She has been crafting the legal strategy for the state of Rhode Island for decades.
She has served in the office of legal counsel for Governors Lincoln Almond (R), Don Carcieri (R), Lincoln Chafee (I/D), and Gina Raimondo (D).
This is not a lifetime appointment - she has served at the pleasure of the Governor for decades. Whether it is a legal strategy on 38 Studios or advising on an appointment, she has been the behind-the-scenes lawyer for the state's top elected officials.
Max Wistow — Don’t look for friendly. His biggest fans say Wistow is one of the most aggressive lawyers in Rhode Island. His detractors use words that are unsuitable for publication.
He was selected by Governor Lincoln Chafee to pursue the recovery of the 38 Studios assets from a collection of litigants -- and in total, he recovered over $60 million.
Some top lawyers are known as a lawyers’ lawyer. Wistow is the lawyer most lawyer would hire to represent them.
Editor's Note: At the time of publication, the recovery was over $40 million, which had been previously noted. The figure has been updated to reflect the total at the conclusion of the legal proceedings, as of 2017.