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Ash
Ash, Solicitor
Category: Law
Satisfied Customers: 10916
Experience:  Solicitor with 5+ years experience
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Hi there. Im helping out my girlfriend. She was thrown out

Customer Question

Hi there. I'm helping out my girlfriend. She was thrown out of an AA driver awareness course after leaving for less than ten mins to breastfeed her 7 week old baby (she was given advance permission by the instructor before the class started). She downloaded the Equality Act discrimination complaint forms and sent it in. She received a response that said that their policy is to not allow any individuals other than the person taking the course but that if she had followed the "joining instructions" she could have notified them in advance and they would have made arrangements. Note: the joining instructions say that you should contact them if you have "special needs". Question: is Breastfeeding her baby considered a special need or a human right? Is there a case here that is worth pursuing? If so, do you know any solicitor who would be interested? Thank you, TWR
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Law
Expert:  Ash replied 3 years ago.

Alex Watts :

Hello my name is Alex and I will help you with this. Please note that I am a working Solicitor and may be on and offline as I have to attend Court and meet with clients, even at weekends. As such you may not get an instant response when you reply as this is not an ‘on demand’ live service, but rest assured I will be giving your question my immediate attention upon return. There is no need to wait here, you will get an email when I reply.

Alex Watts :

When you say AA - I assume you mean the vehicle breakdown people?

JACUSTOMER-tctg9h1v- : Hi Alex. Yes, AA, the vehicle breakdown people have a division called AA DriveTech which does driver awareness courses in partnership or on behalf of the thames valley police.
JACUSTOMER-tctg9h1v- : My friend took the course because she had been caught speeding (7 MPH over the limit) instead of points.
Alex Watts :

Ok - in that case Human Rights does not apply

Alex Watts :

This only applies to public bodies such as the Council, Home Office etc.

Alex Watts :

Therefore you are left with the Equality Act 2010.

Alex Watts :

However is breast feeding a special need?

Alex Watts :

In reality probably not.

Alex Watts :

This is because needs apply generally to a disability

Alex Watts :

So someone who is deaf, or blind for example.

Alex Watts :

Then these needs would perhaps have to be catered for

Alex Watts :

But breastfeeding is not a condition which is covered under the Equality Act.

Alex Watts :

I am sorry if this is not the answer you want, and certainly not the one I want to give you, but I have a duty to be honest

Alex Watts :

Can I clarify anything for you about this today please?

JACUSTOMER-tctg9h1v- : I appreciate honesty but I'm confused. It's my understanding that the equality act does cover the right of a woman to have equal access to the course as a man and therefore that needs to include the baby since it is also the right of that woman to breastfeed her 7 month old baby. Am I misunderstanding it?
Alex Watts :

The Equality Act covers protected characterstics

Alex Watts :

Age

Disability

Gender reassignment

Marriage and civil partnership

Pregnancy and maternity

Race

Religion and belief

Sex

Sexual orientation

Alex Watts :

Not post children.

Alex Watts :

Therefore it is not a protected characteristic and not covered by the Act.

JACUSTOMER-tctg9h1v- : 7 week old baby, sorry. Not 7 months.
Alex Watts :

Ah.

Alex Watts :

Thats different then

Alex Watts :

From the Equality Commission website

Alex Watts :

"Pregnancy is the condition of being pregnant or expecting a baby. Maternity refers to the period after the birth, and is linked to maternity leave in the employment context. In the non-work context, protection against maternity discrimination is for 26 weeks after giving birth, and this includes treating a woman unfavourably because she is breastfeeding."

Alex Watts :

In that case she could raise a complaint with the AA or http://www.equalityhumanrights.com/

Alex Watts :

Can I clarify anything?

JACUSTOMER-tctg9h1v- : As I first said, she sent the complaint to the AA (DriveTech). They said she should have informed them in advance (special need) and then she would have been allowed. So my question is/was: if its a woman's right to have that baby with her and breastfeed it (she left the classroom only once for less than 10 mins), was she REQUIRED as they have said, to give them advance notice? Or was this discrimination?
Alex Watts :

They need to make all reasonable adjustments, so in reality 10 min is neither here nor there

Alex Watts :

So yes it is still discrimination

JACUSTOMER-tctg9h1v- : So just to be clear....
JACUSTOMER-tctg9h1v- : Bringing her baby for Breastfeeding was not a special need that required letting them know in advance...according to the law?.
Alex Watts :

Yes

Alex Watts :

The Act does not require advance notification

JACUSTOMER-tctg9h1v- : That's great! Thanks. Do you know anyone who would be interested in handling something like this? I have called many solicitors offices but they only handle employment discrimination.
Alex Watts :

I would speak to the Equality Commission

JACUSTOMER-tctg9h1v- : Ok I'll give it a try. Many thanks.
Alex Watts :

Can I clarify anything else for you?

JACUSTOMER-tctg9h1v- : Hi again. I spoke with the equality commission. They are not solicitors but do give advice. They say that it was her right to bring the baby to the class but not bring the baby inside the class because that would disrupt others. Since they are not solicitors, I like your opinion better! What do you think about what their interpretation? By the way, they unfortunately don't recommend solicitors.
Alex Watts :

They can't recommend Solicitors just as I can not!

Alex Watts :

But the centre must have made adjustments which are reasonable.

Alex Watts :

Would it have been reasonable to allow 10 mins - yes!

Alex Watts :

Does this clarify?