KFC discriminated against a breastfeeding assistant manager by forcing her to express milk in a camp-style toilet tent.
The ACT Civil and Administrative Tribunal found management’s insistence she not leave the site was not reasonable.
KFC discriminates against breastfeeding assistant manager
The woman had worked for several years as an assistant manager at the Tuggeranong restaurant in Canberra.
Australia’s largest private KFC franchise group owns the outlet.
But when she returned to work following maternity leave, her manager denied the flexible conditions she expected.
The woman said management told her that she would not be permitted to leave the restaurant to express milk. The reason – health and safety, she was told.
They instead suggested she do it in an unlocked storeroom.
They later provided her with a toilet tent to sit in so other staff could not see her.
Felt pressure to feed child formula
She told the tribunal she felt pressured to wean and feed her child formula.
The assistant manager also considered taking a casual job, which would have been a demotion.
“She was shocked that such a large company as KFC did not educate their leaders on how to support breastfeeding women returning to work,” the tribunal found.
“She also said that KFC did not appear to have any policies or procedures for circumstances such as hers.”
‘Not a reasonable response’
The tribunal found the managers’ insistence she not leave the site “is not a reasonable response to the needs of a modern workforce”.
“The respondent [the KFC franchise group] insists on the condition being enforced so that a manager trained in health and safety would be available in an emergency,” it said.
“But the tribunal questions how an employee half-undressed, on a chair, in a tent could be a responsive manager in any emergency in any case.
“It is difficult to imagine how the respondent considered that such a solution would be satisfactory to [the woman] or any other employee in that situation.”
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Couldn’t provide facilities
The tribunal heard that managers did not believe the business could provide the facilities the woman needed.
“KFC’s store layout does not have private rooms and therefore would not be able to accommodate this request given it’s not practical and too costly to accommodate,” the business said.
The tribunal noted the woman had felt uncomfortable in the tent, as other staff would have been able to hear her pumping her breasts as they came and went.
“[It] would, in the tribunal’s opinion, make the applicant uncomfortable, if not in a constant state of fight or flight.”
It found the KFC franchise group had unreasonably disadvantaged the woman, who had since resigned.
“The respondent has discriminated against the applicant by imposing upon her a term and condition of employment, being that she remain on the premises at all times during her shift, including during unpaid breaks, that unreasonably disadvantaged her because she was breastfeeding in contravention of the Discrimination Act 1991.”
The tribunal will consider compensation later this week.
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Previously, a court in the US ordered a KFC outlet to pay a breastfeeding worker $A2.1 million.
The restaurant failed to provide her a place to breastfeed or express milk.
Autumn Lampkins told the Delaware District Court that KFC did not allow her to breastfeed as often as she needed to.
Additionally, she said the company failed to provide her with privacy to pump breast milk because of windows and surveillance cameras.
A jury subsequently found she had suffered harassment and gender discrimination.
Therefore, it awarded her $A35,000 compensation, and $A2.1 million in punitive damages.
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