A FORMER employee of a Kentucky Fried Chicken franchisee is celebrating this week after being awarded more than $1,5 million (about R20,6 million) in damages for being unfairly treated while breastfeeding her child.

According to USA Today, Autumn Lampkins had been employed by KFC in Delaware, America just months after giving birth to her son in 2014.

She told her new bosses that she would need to pump breast milk at work to feed her baby later at home, and was told it wasn’t a problem.

But she was only allowed to pump milk about once during her 10-hour shifts, not once every two hours as recommended.

She started off pumping in a toilet in the bathroom before being told to pump in the manager’s office instead.  But there was a CCTV camera in the office which she was told couldn’t be turned off.

After training she was transferred to another KFC where she was demoted and constantly picked on by co-workers for getting extra “breaks” to pump her breast milk.

The result was that Autumn suffered physical pain and  her breast milk dried up, forcing her to feed her baby formula instead.

On Tuesday, a jury ruled that Autumn be paid $1,5 million (about R20,6 million) in punitive damages and a further $25 000 (about R344 000) in compensatory damages.

Autumn’s lawyer Patrick Gallagher said: "It was a great and long-fought victory. It's a great day for women's rights. The jury sent a message that employers cannot treat lactating women differently in the workplace."

Lawyers did not respond to USA Today’s request for comment. It is unclear whether KFC will appeal the ruling.