Wearing cultural, religious or national items

Can I wear jewellery and/or other items that express my religion, culture or nationality to work or to school?

It depends. Schools and employers may have uniform standards. At the same time people should be able to wear jewellery such as a cross and taonga when these express their religious, spiritual or cultural beliefs.

Discrimination on the grounds of religious belief and/or ethnic or national origins is not allowed under the Human Rights Act and the New Zealand Bill of Rights Act. This means that if your workplace or school does not let you wear items that significantly reflect your religion or cultural beliefs, it might be unlawful discrimination.

Many schools require pupils to wear a school uniform and many workplaces have dress codes. Schools and workplaces can prevent you from wearing items like taonga or a crucifix for reasons such as health and safety.

If an employer or a school staff member does not let you wear a religious or cultural item of significance, you can call the Commission for help on 0800 496 877.

If you are at school, Ministry of Education facilitators may also be able to help out. If you are an employee, you can contact the Employment Relations Service for further advice.

Organisations that may be able to help are:

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