Equal Opportunities Commission


E-news Issue 212


EOC gives legal assistance to foreign domestic worker in pregnancy and disability discrimination case

On 14 June 2019, the EOC issued legal proceedings under the Sex Discrimination Ordinance (SDO) and the Disability Discrimination Ordinance (DDO) in the District Court, on behalf of a foreign domestic helper who claims that her former employer discriminated against her on the grounds of her pregnancy, disability and the related sick leave by terminating her employment.

Under the law, pregnancy discrimination means treating a woman less favourably because of her pregnancy, while disability is broadly defined as an illness or impairment that a person may have. Both pregnant women and persons with disabilities (PWDs), including foreign domestic helpers, are protected from discrimination in employment and use of facilities and services, among other domains.

Pregnancy discrimination in employment settings continue to account for a significant share of the complaints received by the EOC under the SDO. From 2016 to 2018, the EOC received 223 complaints about pregnancy discrimination, representing 32% of all SDO-related complaints lodged within the three years.

By taking this case to court, the EOC hopes to raise public awareness of the rights of pregnant workers and PWDs, and to remind employers that it is unlawful to discriminate against employees, including foreign domestic workers, on the grounds of their pregnancy and disability.