One would think that employers would probably know already how to treat new moms back on the job, because women have been re-entering the workforce after giving birth for decades now. Well, apparently, there are still some people who need to learn.
Autumn Lampkins was hired to be an assistant manager at a Kentucky Fried Chicken in Delaware just a few months after she gave birth, and she was told that her new job wouldn’t interfere with her need to pump breastmilk. However, that was not the case.
Lampkins claims that the KFC outlet gave her a very hard time for needing to pump breast milk during working hours, and she has now filed a lawsuit against her former employer. The claims that she was demoted for that, and KFC must now pay over $1.5 million to their former employee.
Lamkins claimed that her co-workers and supervisor made it very hard for her to pump milk during her working hours, so much that her milk supply dried up.
As a result, the new mom experienced pain and had to switch her baby to formula much sooner than she had initially planned. Her supervisor let Lampkins pump only once during her 10-hour training shift, even when women are advised to pump once every two hours.
According to the lawsuit, she didn’t have a private place to pump, and her options were pumping in the employee bathroom or in the manager’s office, which had a surveillance camera.
And, to make things worse, she was even demoted at the end. When she finished her assistant-manager training, she was told that she will have to move to a different store and she was demoted to shift supervisor. Her boss explicitly told Lampkins that her demotion was because she was pumping breast milk while at work.
Her co-workers at the new store complained that she got special “breaks” to pump milk, and they even threatened to walk out if she kept having them.
The jury found evidence of workplace discrimination and the work environment to be hostile, and Lampkins was awarded $25,000 in compensatory damages and $1.5 million in punitive damages.
One of Lampkins’ attorneys has since stated that it was a great day for women’s rights, and the jury sent a message that employers cannot treat lactating women differently in the workplace.