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Delaware mom sues KFC franchisee for discrimination, interfering with breastfeeding
A Delaware mother is suing a KFC franchisee where discrimination led to her breast milk supply drying up, a lawsuit claims.
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"If evolution really works, how come mothers only have two hands?" - Milton Berle
A Kent County mother is suing a Kentucky Fried Chicken franchisee that once employed her, claiming she was discriminated against and demoted because she wanted to pump breast milk for her newborn son.
The lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court claims that KFC/Taco Bell restaurants in Camden and Dover made it so difficult for Autumn Lampkins to pump breast milk during her shifts that her supply dried up and she was no longer able to naturally feed her newborn son.
Not only was it nearly impossible for Lampkins to pump when she needed to, but when she did, she rarely had privacy because of windows and surveillance cameras, the lawsuit claims.
“This willful, intentional, and unlawful gender-based harassment and discrimination violates the laws and regulations of both the United States...and the State of Delaware,” the lawsuit reads.
Lampkins, represented by Wilmington law firm Jacobs & Crumplar P.A., is suing Texas-based Mitra QSR LLC, owner of the fast-food franchises, for gender discrimination and harassment, according to court documents.
A claim that the company violated the Fair Labor Standards Act was granted summary judgment by District Court Judge Colm F. Connolly, meaning that claim essentially was tossed.
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The case, based solely on the gender discrimination and harassment claims, is headed to jury trial in early February.
Lampkins gave birth to her son just a few months before she was hired as an assistant manager at the KFC/Taco Bell in Camden in late 2014, and was told that her decision to breastfeed would not be a problem, according to the lawsuit.
However, Lampkins was only able to pump about once during each 10-hour training shift — not once every two hours as recommended, documents filed with the federal court show.
At first, she was told she would have to pump in the single-stall bathroom before she was shifted to the manager’s office. The office, however, was equipped with a surveillance camera which she was told could not be turned off, the lawsuit claims.
MORE: Breastfeeding laws: Know your rights as a nursing mom in public and at work
Other employees also would come into the office while Lampkins was pumping, the claim states.
By the time Lampkins finished her assistant manager training, a new boss was in charge. That district manager, Emily Martin, moved Lampkins to a Dover KFC as a shift supervisor, instead of to a store in Smyrna as an assistant manager, according to the lawsuit.
Thandie Newton (mom of two girls Ripley and Nico): “I’ve learned the value of absorbing the moment. I remember the first time Ripley saw her shadow. My God, it was like shadows had just been invented. It was the most exquisite moment.”
“This was a demotion and not at Ms. Lampkins’ request,” the lawsuit states. “Emily Martin explicitly told Ms. Lampkins that her demotion to shift supervisor was because she was pumping breast milk while at work.”
The lawsuit also argues that, while working in Dover, employees complained that Lampkins took breaks to pump while they still had to work and threatened to walk out, causing insubordination that was not addressed by her supervisors.
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The lawsuit also says she had limited opportunities to pump after the move to Dover, “causing her embarrassment, pain, and a decrease in breast milk supply for her son.”
Because of those difficulties, she “had to resort to giving her son formula sooner than she wanted to since she was unable to pump breast milk at work," the lawsuit states.
MORE: 15 must-have products for breastfeeding and pumping moms
A few months later, Lampkins quit after learning that she was about to be fired after “inadvertently [taking a customer’s] jacket home,” according to court documents.
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She filed the lawsuit in July 2016. It will head to trial more than two years later.
An attorney for the defendant said she had no comment on the case. Lampkins’ attorney Thomas Crumplar said he is “not at liberty to make any comment” due to the pending trial.
Read the court's recent summary judgment opinion below.
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