If you are treated unfairly because you are breastfeeding or expressing breast milk, it is a form of sex discrimination under the Human Rights Act. The Human Rights Act says it is illegal for someone to stop you breastfeeding at work, where you are studying, on public transport, in government departments, in public places and in restaurants and shops.
Stopping a woman from breastfeeding at work is against the law. You have the right to breastfeed your child or express breast milk at work. Your employer and you should find ways you can do your job and have regular breaks to express milk or breastfeed. There is no law in New Zealand that says your employer has to pay for breastfeeding breaks, but international labour standards say breastfeeding breaks at work should be paid.
What you can do if you have been discriminated against:
- Write down the time, place, and the name of the person who discriminated against you because you were breastfeeding or expressing milk
- Talk it over with someone that you trust, to help you decide what to do
- Explain that it is your right to breastfeeding your child and to express breast milk.
- If it happened at work, discuss the problem with your manager, a human resources person, your union delegate or someone else who can help solve the problem.
- Suggest ways that your employer can support you to do your job while you are breastfeeding.
- Read the Department of Labour's guidelines for employers. You can get a copy on http://www.ers.dol.govt.nz/ or by phoning 0800 800 863
- Contact the Human Rights Commission to get more information about your rights and to make a complaint about discrimination. Human Rights Commission Infoline: 0800 496 877 or visit http://www.hrc.co.nz/
How the Human Rights Commission Can Help If you decide to make a complaint of discrimination with the Human Rights Commission, you will be offered free help which may include advice on how to resolve the situation yourself, information about your rights, informal intervention, mediation - this may involve letters, phone calls, or meetings. This support may help to solve the problem. For example, the person you discriminated against you may agree to:
- not discriminate against people because of breastfeeding in the future
- complete a training or education programme
- compensate you for hurt feelings and/or losses
- provide a reference
- develop, or review, workplace policy and practice to support breastfeeding at work.
**Disclaimer: While we have tried to make this information as complete and legally accurate as possible, it should not be regarded as legal advice. Please contact a lawyer for specific legal advice.