Breastfeeding case studies

The breastfeeding discrimination case summaries are grouped into two categories: court and tribunal decisions, and conciliated outcomes.

Court and tribunal decisions are made after all the evidence is heard, including details of loss and damage. The full text of court and tribunal decisions is available from:

Conciliated outcomes are where the parties have reached an agreement through conciliation at the Queensland Human Rights Commission.

Conciliated outcomes

Breastfeeding mother banned from childcare centre

Type of outcomeConciliation
AreaProviding goods or services
Outcome detailsWritten apology
Financial compensation
Waiving outstanding fees
Undertaking to make no derogatory comments
CompensationAmount not disclosed

Summary: The mother of an infant enrolled at a childcare centre had a routine of attending the centre during her work lunch break to breastfeed her child.

After some months she was told by the centre Director that she was no longer allowed to breastfeed within the centre grounds as the centre does not have facilities to accommodate breastfeeding mothers in privacy. When she queried where she could breastfeed, it was suggested that she feed in her car in the car park. The woman then enrolled her child in another centre.

At the conciliation conference a representative from the centre stated that the reason the woman was banned from breastfeeding there was because she caused disruption to the staff (by continually taking them away from their work) and children who were in their designated rest period. The woman denied this, and said that this was just an excuse to cover for the discrimination.

The matter was resolved by a written apology from the centre, the payment of compensation to the woman and waiving any outstanding fees owed.

All parties agreed to make no derogatory comments about each other or say or do anything to damage the other's reputation.

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Breastfeeding hospital patient

Type of outcomeConciliation
AreaProviding goods or services
Outcome detailsUndertaking to give staff training

Summary: A woman alleged she was discriminated against when breastfeeding while being admitted to a hospital for an operation.She stated the hospital had advised her that they would have to rearrange a whole ward and move other patients to give her a room with two beds.

She alleged a nurse advised her that she would be on antibiotics and therefore would be unable to breastfeed, and the baby would not be able to stay with her. She added that during her stay she had requested a breast pump and was told the hospital did not have a breast pump. She stated she was unable to get help from the staff when her breasts became engorged. She alleged a nurse removed her from her room because she was breastfeeding and was told it may have embarrassed others.

She added that the hospital staff failed to acknowledge on her medical chart that she was lactating and failed to transfer her to a hospital equipped to deal with a breastfeeding patient. She also alleged the hospital would not refer her to their complaints department.

She stated she was humiliated, embarrassed, and traumatised by the alleged incidents.

The hospital stated that as a general hospital, it was unable to provide experienced nurses who could instruct the patient in using a breast pump. The hospital stated that there appeared to be a break down in communication between staff and the patient.

The matter resolved with the hospital ensuring staff would be trained to be more sensitive to the needs of breastfeeding patients in the future. With the assistance of the Commission, productive discussions between the hospital and the patient led to a resolution of the complaint.

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