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April 25, 2019

Woman wins $1.5 million from KFC franchisee whose breast-pumping policy was ‘No’

February 12, 2019
A KFC restaurant exterior (Wolterk / Getty Images)

A Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) franchisee must pay $1.5 million to a former employee whose attempts to breastfeed her new baby were thwarted so often that she had to start giving him formula early.

A jury found enough evidence of workplace discrimination and hostile work environment after Autumn Lampkins sued KFC/Taco Bell restaurants in Camden and Dover to award her $25,000 in compensatory damages and $1.5 million in punitive damages, the Delaware News Journal reported.

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In the suit she said that there was not enough time allotted in the schedule for her to break away and pump, and that there wasn’t a private place to do so.

The suit against franchise owner QSR LLC, based in Texas, alleged that rather than being able to pump once every two or so hours, as is medically recommended, she was only able to do so once per 10-hour training shift.

Moreover, the places she was forced to pump – either the single-stall staff bathroom or the manager’s office, which had a surveillance camera and constant employee comings-and-goings. Neither place offered much privacy, the lawsuit claimed.

After her assistant-manager training had ended, the lawsuit alleges, a new district manager came on board and sent her to a store as a shift supervisor rather than assistant manager, a demotion, the lawsuit claimed.

“This was a demotion and not at Ms. Lampkins’ request,” the lawsuit stated, according to the Delaware News Journal, adding that the boss, Emily Martin, “explicitly told Ms. Lampkins that her demotion to shift supervisor was because she was pumping breast milk while at work.”

The suit called it “willful, intentional, and unlawful gender-based harassment and discrimination,” the News Journal reported.

So severe were the roadblocks to Lampkins’ attempts to pump breast milk for her son that “her supply dried up and she was no longer able to naturally feed her newborn son,” the News Journal said in quoting the lawsuit.

“It was a great and long-fought victory,” one of Lampkins’ attorneys, Patrick Gallagher of Wilmington law firm Jacobs & Crumplar P.A., told the News Journal. “It’s a great day for women’s rights. The jury sent a message that employers cannot treat lactating women differently in the workplace.”

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