A KFC franchisee in the US will pay $NZD2.2 million to a former employee who claimed the fast-food restaurant made it impossible for her to breastfeed her child.

The Delaware woman, Autumn Lampkins, claimed in the district court she was discriminated against because her co-workers and supervisors made it so hard for her to breastfeed her supply dried up, USA Today reported.

A jury handed down its decision on Friday, agreeing with gender discrimination and harassment claims that said Ms Lampkins could not breastfeed as often as needed at her two places of employment, a KFC and a KFC/Taco Bell restaurant.

It also argued the mother rarely had privacy to pump breast milk while working because of windows and surveillance cameras.


Ms Lampkins was awarded more than $37,000 in compensatory damages as well as $2.2 million in punitive damages.

The KFC was ordered to pay $2.2 million. Photo Getty Images
The KFC was ordered to pay $2.2 million. Photo Getty Images

The mother was hired by the fast-food chain a few months after giving birth in 2014, but while at work she said she was only allowed to pump about once a day instead of every two hours as recommended.

At first, she pumped in a single-stall bathroom before being ordered to pump in a manager's office monitored by a camera she was told could not be switched off.

Ms Lampkins was then shifted to another KFC restaurant where she was demoted and copped complaints from co-workers who said the mother got "breaks" to pump her breast milk.

Ms Lampkins' lawyer Patrick Gallagher said the finding was a "great day for women's rights".

"It was a great and long fought victory," he said.

"The jury sent a message that employers cannot treat lactating women differently in the workplace."