Breastfeeding your baby is a normal and natural thing to do.
In Australia, it is against the law to be discriminated against on the basis of pregnancy, breastfeeding or expressing milk.
Most mothers work out where and how they can feed their babies when they are out, so that they are comfortable.
You are allowed to breastfeed in public places, such as shopping centres, restaurants, hotels, and public transport.
What is breastfeeding discrimination
Although breastfeeding is acknowledged as important for mothers and babies, some people make critical remarks or confront mothers with unnecessary and illegal ‘rules’.
For example, it may be discrimination if staff or management at a cafe or at your workplace tells you, “You can’t do that here” – or asks you to leave because you are breastfeeding.
Discrimination on the basis of pregnancy and breastfeeding can also include degrading or humiliating comments, as well as unreasonable workplace policies and practices that an employee who is pregnant or breastfeeding cannot fulfill.
You should not be pressured into resigning your job because you are breastfeeding, or giving up breastfeeding in order to return to work.
You may need:
- breaks so that you can express milk, or feed your baby, and
- a place where you can express or feed comfortably.
What the law says
In Australia, it is illegal to discriminate against a person based on breastfeeding under the Sex Discrimination Act.
It is illegal to treat a woman less favourably than another person in education, employment or access to premises or services on the basis that she is breastfeeding.
- A woman cannot be asked to leave a café for breastfeeding her baby
- A woman cannot be refused employment because she is breastfeeding
- A woman cannot be expelled from an educational institution because she is breastfeeding
Breastfeeding discrimination is against the law when you are:
- a customer (such as at a café, hotel, club, restaurant, or sporting venue)
- a worker, or applying for work
- a student
- accessing government or other services.
Employees are protected from discrimination at all stages of employment including recruitment and dismissal.
You are allowed to breastfeed in public places, such as shopping centres, restaurants, gyms, hotels, sporting venues and public transport.
How we can help
If you have been subjected to discrimination on the basis of breastfeeding, our team of Australian workplace lawyers and industrial advocates at Discrimination Claims can help.
We can take action on your behalf in the Anti-Discrimination Commission or Fair Work Commission, as well as making claims for compensation.
IMPORTANT: If you have been dismissed from employment because of breastfeeding, you only have 21 days from the date of your dismissal to make a claim, so don’t delay!