Ikea Breastfeeding Harassment (Update)

Ikea Breastfeeding Harassment (Update)

Brea Rehder and her daughter. -Handout Photo

Ottawa mom, Brea Rehder, 24, told Canada.com she was at the Ikea Ottawa location on March 10th. As she waited in line to check out, an employee was called over to handle a pricing issue.

Rehder’s daughter began to fuss while she was waiting for the additional employee, so Rehder began breastfeeding her daughter while waiting in line.

The employee eventually came over and Rehder said she asked her to verify the price of an item she was purchasing.

According to Rehder, the employee responded by saying, “When you’re done being disgusting, we can continue this conversation and in the mean time you can take it to the bathroom because you’re holding up the line.” Rehder pointed out that the only reason she was holding up the line was because she was waiting on the employee.

Rehder said she didn’t respond immediately because she was “absolutely speechless.” Rehder then educated the woman on a breastfeeding mother’s rights. “I just told her I have every right to feed my daughter and I wouldn’t be standing in this line holding it up if you’d come dealt with me immediately.” She then paid for her items and left.

Legally, the Ikea employee was completely out of line. Ontario Human Rights Commission specifically states that mothers should be free to nurse in public and should never be asked to cover or move to a more “discreet” location.

What does Ikea think of all of this?

When Rehder got home, she took to the company’s Facebook page to let them know what just transpired in their Ottawa location.

A company representative responded by apologizing and said they took her claims “seriously” and would be investigating it further. Ikea went further to state their view of breastfeeding in the store:

“Ikea supports mothers’ rights to breastfeed openly. We do provide private rooms for anyone who is interested in a quiet moment, but welcome mothers to breastfeed anywhere in our stores.”

An Ikea manager then contacted Rehder personally. Rehder said the manager “apologized profusely” and said the company had not only opened an internal investigation to identify the employee, but promised her they would remind all workers of the company’s breastfeeding policy.

“I don’t blame Ikea for this, because I know what their family values are,” Rehder told CTV News. “But unfortunately this person was representing them while in uniform.”

Rehder also explained the repercussions her family is facing due to the comments made by this particular employee. Her son, who also is currently breastfeeding, happened to be beside her when the harassment by the Ikea employee took place, and he overheard the entire conversation.

“We went to go nurse at night and he said, ‘No mommy, I don’t want to; it’s yucky, the lady said it’s bad.’ I tried to tell him, I said, ‘No, it’s not yucky, you love it.’”

Rehder’s goal now is to relieve the stigma that remains over breastfeeding in public.

“The stigma’s not just going to go away with my story, but I’m hoping that more women will go public with their stories because I know so many women are shamed for breastfeeding, which is a completely natural thing to do.”

“I think in modern times when we are so advanced in every other aspect of life, we can’t accept something we’ve been doing forever.”


March 15, 2014

Madeleine Löwenborg-Frick, Corporate Communications & Public Relations Manager for Ikea Canada contacted us this morning with the following statement:

“I am writing to provide additional details for a story you ran earlier this week. The story was about an Ottawa woman, Brea Rehder, who alleges that an IKEA employee made a derogatory comment to her for breastfeeding her child in the cash line. As a company who supports mothers’ right to breast feed openly, we took the complaint seriously, apologized to the customer and launched an internal investigation.

Our investigation has revealed that the customer was not in the store at the time and location she claims the incident occurred. However, we do have surveillance footage of the customer shopping at the Ottawa store much later that day. She was at the store between 6:47 p.m. and 8:40 p.m., but there is no evidence of the interaction she has described. In fact, at no time does she breast feed her child during her shopping trip and her infant is not with her when she goes through the cash lane. The infant in question is sitting in a high chair in the Bistro with a member of her party while Ms. Rehder goes through the cash lanes. We have carefully reviewed security footage and interviewed our co-workers who were working at the time and are not able to corroborate any element of her account. It is apparent that the complaint is false.

IKEA is deeply concerned about these false allegations and the impact that they can have on our brand.”



Tags assigned to this article:
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Write a comment
  1. Amanda 12 March, 2014, 17:57

    I had no idea that IKEA has its own breastfeeding-friendly policy! I’ve nursed my son in a carrier while browsing and many times in the restaurant — good to know that I am always welcome to do so!

    Reply this comment
  2. Mary Bunton 12 March, 2014, 18:14

    It is bery disrespectful on Ikea part it is very natural. The employee should be fired.

    Reply this comment
    • Julia 15 March, 2014, 15:04

      Mary Bunton, there was no employee that said that to this woman. The woman who originally said that this happened, lied about it. It did not happen, she was not breastfeeding in the store at all. There is no employee to fire because this incident did not happen

      Reply this comment
    • Adam Keith 15 March, 2014, 16:58

      So Mary,

      Now that it has come out that the employee did nothing wrong, that she made up these allegations what do you think the consequences should be for Brea Rehder?

      Reply this comment
  3. formernomad (@formernomad) 15 March, 2014, 12:50

    I have felt like her story was unbelievable from the beginning. Looks like I was right. I wish I hadn’t been :-(

    Reply this comment
  4. Sarah 15 March, 2014, 13:31

    IKEA should release the video to disprove this woman’s story. Its one thing to support breastfeeding and it’s another one to fabricate a story that could ruin a company’s reputation.

    Reply this comment
  5. cammie 15 March, 2014, 14:53

    I know this mother. She is a very kind and loving person who has no need to lie. all she wanted was an apology from ikea, and she got that. this is now been turned upside down on her when she was quite happy with the apology she got. it’s a shame that everyone has to keep on going with this.

    Reply this comment
    • Dee 15 March, 2014, 18:21

      Cammie…an apology for what?
      Ikea did nothing wrong.

      Reply this comment
    • Mandie 15 March, 2014, 18:33

      So, are you saying that the video is false? What does your friend say about Ikeas allegation?

      Reply this comment
    • myself 15 March, 2014, 18:40

      An apology for what? She lied and tried to hurt the IKEA brand. She needs to apologize.

      Reply this comment
      • cammie 15 March, 2014, 20:38

        No she didn’t. You only have Ikea’s side of things. which sadly is all anyone is going to see. they have made it seem like she had a vendetta against the company. so everyone sides with ikea. when in reality, she wanted to have this resolved quite quietly.

        Reply this comment
        • kirsty peacock 16 March, 2014, 06:04

          So the fact that video evidence does not corroborate her story means absolutely nothing? Just because you know her doesn’t make her a liar. It is a very damaging thing she has done.

          Reply this comment
        • Jen 16 March, 2014, 06:37

          Resolved quietly?! She slammed IKEA on every page possible. Anyone who calls her two year old son an a$$hole and a d!ck on her Jynx Marie and mommy gone mental sites speaks volumes about the kind of person she is. Good for IKEA, glad they busted the attention seeking Mental Mommy!!

          Reply this comment
        • NoSoup 16 March, 2014, 07:46

          If she had wanted to have it resolved quietly she wouldn’t have taken it to the media, social or conventional. If she had just wanted to be left alone, she wouldn’t have done national news interviews. If she had only wanted a simple “apology” she wouldn’t have threatened to sue for harrassment. What she wanted out of the situation seemed to change day to day as the issue grew in momentum and exposure and her risk of being caught in her false allegation increased.
          As for no need to lie? How oddly synergistic that she also happens to be a blogger about Mommy issues. How weird that the other post of late on her blog that gathered the most attention was also about breastfeeding issues. A bit of controversy is an excellent way to drive traffic to your site, and she made every effort she could to encourage that traffic and fuel the attention by posting links to her inflammatory blogpost on Twitter and across Facebook. When I want to resolve things “quietly” I don’t tell everybody about it, seems counterintuitive to me.
          If this incident happened as she claims, and not as the video apparently shows, where is ANY other witness coming forward to support her allegation. I’ve never been in an Ikea in any location at any time of day where there weren’t people all around me. How come not one other customer has come forth to say they saw this happen? or a whistleblower employee?
          How odd that she was so indignant at being called ‘disgusting’ that she would take to national media, but now that she is essentially being called a ‘liar’ she cannot be reached for comment, has nothing to say to defend herself, and is deleting the posts that caused it all instead of defending them.
          She wanted some attention, and she got exactly what she wanted. Poor her.

          Reply this comment
  6. Dr Alison Barrett 15 March, 2014, 18:02

    Wow. I would still like to give the woman the benefit of any doubt. In my mind Ikea was handling it all beautifully until they posted the fact finding mission to “prove” what the woman said wasn’t true….because, really it gave them good exposure and a good chance to reiterate their policy and reassure the public. Are they really 100 percent certain? And, are they really 100 percent certain that this could never happen in any of their stores?

    Reply this comment
    • Neha 15 March, 2014, 21:11

      I’m sorry, but if someone lied about you and publicly defamed you, wouldn’t you be compelled to clear your name? I don’t fault IKEA one bit for exposing a gross fabrication that was engineered to ruin the reputation of their brand as well as an innocent employee. That mother has no idea what sort of impact it could have had on an employee. As a manager of a retail establishment myself, it’s my duty to protect not only my customers, but my employees as well. That woman should be ashamed of herself. And all this for what? Some sympathy? Maybe some free stuff from IKEA? Now THAT is disgusting.

      Reply this comment
  7. sam 15 March, 2014, 21:02

    Its a multi billion dollar company. You people think they couldn’t/wouldn’t “lose” footage that brought them bad media?!?

    Reply this comment
  8. Laine 16 March, 2014, 00:35

    I must say, this is getting hairy. So where does the burden of proof lie here? Oh the mother who claims she was harassed, or on the store who claims they’re innocent targets? I am not familiar with Canada’s legal system, but here you are *supposed* to be innocent until proven guilty. Since corporations are much like private people under the law, I assume it’s the same for them. But how would she prove this encounter happened? Legalities aside, I’ll be needing to see that tape before I believe Ikea, for the simple fact it would be a quick and easy way to resolve this. Now all of the sudden, she’s called a liar and I imagine could even possibly face slander/libel charges. Then Ikea simply pulls up the articles and facebook posts and there’s their proof, I can only hope they would also have to prove it never happened. What might this mean for breastfeeding mothers who speak out? And yes, if they do release the footage and she is proved to be lieing, then there should be repercussions. Libel/slander charges (if applicable in Canada) would be a good place to start I suppose.

    Reply this comment
  9. Jen 16 March, 2014, 05:41

    Cammie, What kind of a “kind and loving person” would call her two year old son an a$$hole on her Jynx Marie fb page?! Joking or not, I’d NEVER say that about my children! That comment alone, along with her choice of language on her Mommy Gone Mental page, speaks volumes about the type of person she is…..

    Reply this comment
  10. Janet 17 March, 2014, 20:24

    An article on the Ottawa Citizen webpage said that ikea WANTS to show the video to Brea whatever her name is. They won’t release it to the public, but they will show her what they found and if it did happen, she can show them when and where. I also read from what they found, the baby wasn’t even at the cash area??

    So for her personal friend on this site, when will she be taking them up on this offer so she can clear her name?

    Reply this comment
  11. Julia 18 March, 2014, 11:06

    It doesn’t matter that this company is a multi million dollar company. Companies big and small want to defend themselves if something happens. Ikea prides themselves on family friend as well as breastfeeding friendly, of course they are going to take this seriously and try to get to the bottom of this. Not to mention that if indeed a manager or employee called a customer disgusting that person would likely lose their job. This is a serious allegation, why is it suprising that they would do an internal investigation into this? I highly highly highly doubt that even if this was true that Ikea would lose any money. Most people really don’t care about this and will continue to shop there. I personally believe Ikea. They don’t really have much to lose from this if it were true, except an employee (which would be easily replacable). They would apologize publicly, fire the employee, and then people would forget and all would be back to normal within a few months. Now this lady on the other hand. Well now she’s got herself her 15 minutes of fame, is driving people to her blog which she makes money off of, etc. She is the one who has something to gain from this. Sadly for her it went the other way, but that’s what happens when you lie. And no, Ikea shouldn’t be showing the public the footage. The only person they need to show it to is this woman, which they have said they would, but I believe she has either declined or has realized what a crap storm she has caused by her story and is now in hiding (her FB page went down). While I feel bad for her if she is experiencing PPD or another postpartum mood disorder, I do not feel bad for her for lying about something, getting caught, and people reacting to it.

    Reply this comment
  12. Kenneth 19 March, 2014, 16:17

    I feel sorry for her husband

    Reply this comment
  13. diane mcneil 23 March, 2014, 08:00

    Check her background. She has been in jail twice in quinte..the first time I believe was for credit card fraud or for sending my son to hospital after one of her fits of rage left him with a gash requiring stitches and the second I think was for breach of conditions.
    That nothing can be done amazes me…that manager would have lost her job and ikea its reputation all because of breas need for attention. And her blog will continue…latest post march 18 on the internet…shut down on facebook but not on .com

    Reply this comment

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