Ikea claims that an alleged incident in which an employee called a mother's breastfeeding "disgusting" never actually happened.
Last week, Brea Rehder of Kemptville, Ont. alleged that she was nursing her daughter in line at an Ikea in Ottawa when she needed help with a pricing issue. She said that a manager then came over and told her that she was "being disgusting" and should take her child into the bathroom because she was "holding up the line."
Rehder complained about the incident on the company's Facebook page, though the complaint has since disappeared from the site.
Ikea spokesperson Madeleine Löwenborg-Frick responded at the time that the company was in contact with Rehder so that it could apologize, adding that it "supports mothers' rights to breastfeed openly."
But now, the company is confident that the incident never happened at all.
Löwenborg-Frick told CTV News that an investigation revealed that the customer was "not in the store at the time and location she claims the incident occurred."
She said the store has surveillance footage of the customer shopping between 6:47 p.m. and 8:40 p.m., but there is no evidence of the incident that Rehder described.
Löwenborg-Frick said that Rehder did not breastfeed her child during the shopping trip, nor was the child with her when she went through a cash lane. She also said that the child was sitting in a high chair at a bistro with another member of her party while she stood in line.
"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," she told the network in a statement.
Rehder, however, is sticking to her story, telling the Ottawa Citizen that she's not certain whether the woman that Ikea identified on the footage is, in fact, her.
She said it's impossible that she was in the store at the time that the company says because she was at a dinner, and has a receipt to prove it.
From her perspective, the issue is done and she doesn't blame Ikea for what allegedly happened.
"All the employees have been spoken to in regards to (Ikea’s) breastfeeding policy, which is really all I wanted. They just need some re-education," Rehder told the newspaper.
She said she never complained in the hope of receiving compensation and will likely donate some toys that the company gave her children.
A "flash feed nurse-in" has been organized at the store for Sunday in response to the story, with dozens of people expected to attend.
The organizers pointed out on the event's Facebook page that they were impressed with Ikea's quick response to the story, and that as online banter about it began, many realized they have had positive experiences at the store.
"This isn't a protest, but rather a thank you to Ikea for supporting nursing mums and also our own attempt to raise some awareness about corporate responsibility and breast feeding," says the event's Facebook description.
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