A former KFC worker has been awarded $A2.1 million after a court ruled she had been discriminated against because the fast food outlet did not provide her a place to breastfeed or express milk.
Autumn Lampkins told the district court in Delaware that her supervisor and co-workers made it so hard for her to breastfeed, that her milk dried up.
She said she could not breastfeed as often as she had to, and rarely had privacy to pump breast milk while working because of windows and surveillance cameras.
A jury found that she had suffered harassment and gender discrimination and awarded her $35,000 compensation, and $2.1 million in punitive damages.
Ms Lampkins was first hired by KFC a few months after giving birth in 2014.
She was only allowed to express milk once during her shift, instead of every two hours as recommended.
She started by pumping in a toilet cubicle, but was then told to do it in the manager’s office where there was a surveillance camera which could not be switched off.
The young mother was then transferred to another KFC restaurant where she was demoted.
Co-workers complained that she was given special treatment by being allowed “breaks” to express breast milk.
Lawyer Patrick Gallagher described the court’s decision as a “great day for women’s rights”.
“It was a great and long fought victory,” he said.
“The jury sent a message that employers cannot treat lactating women differently in the workplace.”
What the experts say
Miles Heffernan, Litigation Director at Discrimination Claims, said in Australia, it is unlawful to discriminate against someone on the basis of breastfeeding.
“You cannot treat someone less favourably if they are pregnant, breastfeeding or expressing milk,” he said.
“So that means, a woman cannot be asked to leave a cafe or a restaurant if they breastfeeding their baby, and she cannot be refused employment, or demoted or sacked because she is breastfeeding.”
Mr Heffernan said women can breastfeed when they are in public places, like on public transport, or in shopping centres or hotels.
“Most mothers work out where and how they can feed their babies when they are out, so that they are comfortable, and that includes when they are at work” he said.
“Employers need to allow mothers the time to breastfeed or express milk, and they must provide a quite private place to allow them to do this.
“Employers who fail to accommodate young mothers will end up in court and paying a huge compensation bill, just like this KFC restaurant.”
If you have been discriminated against on the basis of pregnancy or breastfeeding, you may be entitled to compensation.
For specialist help and advice, please call Discrimination Claims on
1300 853 837
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