Equal Opportunities Commission


E-news Issue 220


EOC gives legal assistance in pregnancy and family status discrimination case

On 23 October 2019, the EOC issued legal proceedings under the Sex Discrimination Ordinance (SDO) and the Family Status Discrimination Ordinance (FSDO) in the District Court, on behalf of a woman (the Claimant) who previously worked for a company (the Respondent) as a cashier.

The Claimant claimed that the Respondent discriminated against her on the ground of her pregnancy by not paying her an annual bonus after being informed of her pregnancy. Further, the Claimant was dismissed by the Respondent on the ground of her pregnancy and/or her family status (i.e. her responsibility of taking care of her two sons who were about one-year old and a newborn respectively).

Pregnancy discrimination means treating a woman less favourably because of her pregnancy. The SDO protects women from pregnancy discrimination in areas such as employment and the provision of goods, services or facilities. Under the SDO, it is unlawful for an employer to subject a woman to a disadvantage or dismiss her on the ground of her pregnancy.

Under the FSDO, it is unlawful to discriminate a person on the ground of family status, which refers to the status of being responsible for the care of an immediate family member. An immediate family member, in relation to a person, means someone who is related to the person concerned by blood, marriage, adoption or affinity. The areas of activities covered by the FSDO are the same as those under the SDO.

By taking the case to court, the EOC hopes to raise public awareness of the rights of pregnant workers, and to remind employers that it is unlawful to discriminate against employees because of their pregnancy and/or family status.