Ex-KFC worker alleges gender discrimination

WILMINGTON — A former Kentucky Fried Chicken employee at the Camden and Dover stores has a February trial date for her lawsuit claiming gender discrimination.

Camden resident Autumn Lampkins alleges that after pumping breastmilk while working several months in 2015 she was harassed by managers and employees and then demoted and transferred, taking a pay cut and assigned fewer work hours during the process.

According to Ms. Lampkins, she was told the demotion was due to the breastfeeding. Her separation from KFC followed in May 2015.

Ms. Lampkins said she was initially given the OK by a district manager to produce milk for her newborn son when she was hired in late December 2014. But then she was eventually instructed to pump in an office with a surveillance camera and access by employees entering as she did.

Some male employees at the Camden location were bothered by the arrangement, according to the plaintiff. An assistant manager opined that the pumping should be done at home. The employer allegedly advised her to cover up when pumping with the camera present, she alleges.

Her training reviews were positive, Ms. Lampkins claimed, though she was deemed to be behind as she worked the floor to learn the job.

After initially being on a track to be assistant manager at a Smyrna store, Ms. Lampkins claimed she was demoted to a shift supervisor in Dover instead.

Her hourly pay allegedly decreased from approximately $10.50 for 50 hours weekly in Camden to $10 for roughly 30 to 40 hours in the Dover store, according to the lawsuit.

Ms. Lampkins claimed she was explicitly told by a district manager that the supposed demotion was due to pumping breastmilk at work. Her move to Dover required less volume and responsibilities, according to the manager, and made for easier pumping.

An assistant manager position would be available upon completion of the pumping, Ms. Lampkins said she was told.

The move to Dover brought problems as time progressed, the lawsuit claims. There was no opportunity to pump some days, Ms. Lampkins alleged, and only once in eight hours other times.

The lack of pumping brought on physical discomfort and decreased the supply of available milk for her son, she claimed.

Ms. Lampkins alleged she “was treated differently, not supported by management and/or punished because of her need to pump.”

Ms. Lampkins was supposedly threatened by employee walkouts if she continued to pump in an office. Her weekly time was cut to 20 hours after contacting a supervisor.

During her time with KFC, Ms. Lampkins claimed she was only “written up” once for supposedly leaving loose trash under a bag of trash inside the restaurant, the lawsuit claims She claims the trash was found to be left out by a previous shift.

Ms. Lampkins’ employment ended on May 1, 2015. She believed termination was imminent “because she mistakenly took home a jacket that a customer had left at the store one night.”

The plaintiff claims to “not report the harassment because she feared she would lose her job if she reported it.

“In addition to lost wages, Ms. Lampkins endured harassment and mistreatment, which cause her emotional distress and disruption of her life.”

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