Male-only Santas 'unlawful discrimination' - employment expert

An employment law expert says only hiring men to be Santa is "unlawful discrimination".

The Farmers Auckland Christmas parade fired its Santa, Neville Baker, after he said a woman Santa wouldn't be authentic.

Mr Baker said he didn't want children to notice Santa's boobs and would instead dress up female applicants as Santa's helpers in a "little skirt and top".

Employment law expert Jennifer Mills joined The AM Show on Monday and argues there's "no reason Santa can't be a woman".

"It is unlawful under the Human Rights Act to discriminate on the basis of sex when the comparator group is substantially similar capabilities and substantially similar circumstances," she told host Duncan Garner.

"Who would notice if it's a man or woman in the Santa suit in any event?"

A spokesperson for the Human Rights Commission told NZME sex was a "prohibited ground of discrimination" under the Act. However, there are some circumstances when it's not unlawful to discriminate on gender, including for "reasons of authenticity".

Ms Mills says discriminating against women is "certainly not a practise now that we'd expect to see in 2018".

"The real question is are jobs open to everyone, and putting aside the few exceptions, on the whole, jobs are open to everyone."