Thursday, February 18, 2010

I was kicked out of the IRS office for breastfeeding.

This makes three times in less than 24 hours the IRS has severely pissed us off.

First Cody checked the amount his pay check would be this Friday to find the IRS is garnishing his checks. They claimed in early December to never have received his 2007 return, so to refile it, which was done. Total owing was $86. It was refiled February 2nd, and we had assistance from the tax advocate. Cody verified with someone from the IRS that his return was received. They're proceeding to garnish his checks anyway at 25% for about 10 pay periods. They are not owed this money!! So we have to deal with that.

Then we checked the status of our refund for last year, and saw that 98.8% of it (no joke) has been withheld. $79 instead of over $6,000. We called and found out the IRS is claiming I had wages for a year I didn't work, so there is taxes on that plus penalties and interest. So we have to deal with that too.

I went down today to the SSA to get proof of no income that year. That went without a hitch. Nursed Charlotte while waiting for the doors to open. Was out of there at 9:02. They opened at 9. Not bad!

From there I went to the IRS office in Santa Barbara and they weren't issuing numbers again until 1:30, though I was told I could go ahead and wait, or come back. The lady said it might also be possible the lady helping people could see me before lunch at 1:30. Since it was two hours until then, and I didn't feel like driving all the way home only to turn around and drive back, and there was a chance to be seen earlier, I decided to wait.

Charlotte got hungry, so I did what any breastfeeding mama would do and started to feed her. I was sitting there minding my own business, watching Charlotte, not talking to anyone, not even Charlotte, just watching her and smiling since she was looking up at me so sweetly. I was sitting three seats from the corner with no one on either side of me, and no one between me and the corner.

The lady who was helping people today (the only one) told me, loudly and from behind the counter so that it was impossible for anyone there to not hear her, that I can't "do that" there, that "there are other places to do it." Where? Outside? A nasty bathroom?! I asserted that state law protects my right to nurse my baby anywhere, especially a government office. She said there are security cameras and she got a complaint about me "doing that" (she wouldn't even say "nursing), and I again told her it's my right, the laws protect nursing in public. She walked back to the window where she had come from, the one closest to the door, while saying that at 12:30, law or no law, I would not be there, and told the lady she was helping that security had been called on me and they'd be right there. I couldn't risk a confrontation with anyone who could arrest me without someone else there to take Charlotte. It would be wrongful arrest and I could sue for probably millions, but I wouldn't risk Charlotte ending up in foster care while Cody and I fought to get her back. It would be unfair to our baby to be in foster care on formula and away from her parents, for even one night. So I had to leave.

I went right from there to the police department to verify the law, and I am correct. State laws expressly protect the right to breastfeed anywhere a baby is authorized to be, barring private residences. Civil Code 43.3 And some more. There aren't even an restrictions on HOW breastfeeding is to be done.

I was really embarrassed and humiliated by this, and it takes a lot to make me feel this way. I'm also feeling very self-conscious about breastfeeding, which isn't fair to me or Charlotte.

What I'm not sure of now is my options on how to proceed. I don't want to drop this. Third time's the charm. It would be easier for me to overlook the government stealing over $6,000 from us, and even them taking 25% of Cody's income for three months, though we can't exactly afford that garnishment with me being a stay-at-home mom, but there's no way I could overlook this. It was a GOVERNMENT WORKER at a GOVERNMENT OFFICE, of all people and places!!!

4 comments:

  1. How totally outragous!!!! You were well within your rights to breastfeed in public!! I am so angry for you, at the fact that they did this to you!! I hope that you do pursue this. Please let me know how you go with this. *hugs*

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  2. I found your blog from a link someone sent me to your post on Baby Center. This is HORRIBLE to hear, especially from a federal government building in the state of California of all places!!!!

    My suggestion is... Have you contacted First Right (www.firstright.org)?

    "FirstRight is a national grassroots breastfeeding advocacy group committed to ensuring freedom from discrimination for breastfeeding children and their mother."

    (I accidentally replied to another post of yours first. Sorry.)

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  3. Breastfeeding on Federal property and in Federal buildings is protected. If children are allowed in that office, they've violated Federal law. Last I checked, the IRS hasn't been spun-off to the private sector. ;)

    You should contact First Right--they can likely help you figure out who to call about this.

    (found via the LJ breastfeeding community)

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  4. Write a letter of complaint to the manager of the office, citing the state law. That should get the person in question a verbal reprimand so they won't do it again.

    If you want to avoid this kind of hassle in the future, you could get a nursing cover, if you don't have one already. I'd certainly understand if you didn't want to do that, though.

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