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KFC Employee Advances Lactation Based Claim

While working as an assistant restaurant manager trainee at a KFC franchise, Autumn Lampkins was a nursing mother. She has claimed that her KFC store first required her to pump breast milk in a bathroom and then instructed her to pump in an office. This office had a camera that could not be turned off and a window through which her co-workers watched her pump. At least one male co-worker was observed watching her while another used his keys to enter where she was pumping on two occasions. Ms. Lampkin wanted to pump every two hours but her supervisor would only allow it once during her ten-hour shift.
After other employees complained about her breaks to pump, she was transferred to another store and her pay was cut. Circumstances did not improve at her new location. Once again, she had to pump in an office with a camera and a window and once again other employees watched and entered while she did it. In addition, her hours were reduced. The other employees complained about her pumping breaks and her supervisor discouraged her from pumping. Ms. Lampkins quit because she believed that her supervisor was about to fire her because of a customer issue.
Mitra, the owner of the KFC franchises, argued that her sex discrimination case should be dismissed because the harassment was not sufficiently severe or pervasive. The federal district court disagreed. The conditions for her pumping, like the offices with windows, the camera feed visible to employees in other states, and the lack of privacy with other employees entering were sufficient to create issues of fact for a jury to find that it was severe or pervasive. Moreover, it was undisputed that her supervisor discouraged her from pumping and that her co-workers complained about her pumping on the job. The totality of circumstances could persuade a jury that she was subjected to a hostile work environment based on her sex. Her Fair Labor Standards Act claim was dismissed because the Act does not create a private right of action to recover for the injuries that she suffered i.e., lost wages, attorneys’ fees and costs.