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The EOC Issues Statement on an Alleged Bullying and Sexual Harassment Incident involving Several Firemen

09/10/2015

With regard to recent media reports that a fireman was suspected to have been bullied and sexually assaulted by his colleagues, the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) has issued today (9 October 2015) the following statement:

Dr. York CHOW, Chairperson of the EOC said, “The EOC is deeply concerned about the incident, and considers the suspected mass bullying unacceptable. The alleged acts may also be in breach of the Sex Discrimination Ordinance (SDO), Cap. 480. The EOC welcomes members of the public to contact us for enquiry on the protection against sexual harassment under the SDO or to lodge complaints.”

Under the Ordinance, it is unlawful for a person, in the course of employment, to engage in any unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature in relation to another person, in circumstances in which a reasonable person, having regard to all the circumstances, would have anticipated that the victim would be offended, humiliated or intimidated. The legal protection against sexual harassment applies to both men and women, as well as sexual harassment to persons of the same sex.

The Ordinance also stipulates that employers, including Government departments, may be vicariously liable for any discriminatory and sexual harassment acts done by their employees in the course of their employment, even if the employers did not know or did not approve of what the employees had done, unless the employers can show that they have taken reasonably practicable steps to prevent the employees from doing the unlawful act.

Dr. York CHOW emphasised, “Apart from compliance with law, it is vital for everyone to treat others equally and respectfully. Sexual harassment and abuse should be unequivocally condemned.”

The EOC holds great concern about sexual harassment in different sectors, and has made combating sexual harassment one of its strategic priority work areas. Since 2013, the EOC has stepped up its efforts to promulgate the importance of preventing sexual harassment in the employment, education, sports and service sector, and provide relevant stakeholders with the necessary skills and knowledge to articulate anti-sexual harassment policies and deal with complaints. These included organising a series of seminars and workshops for employers, employees, school administrators and students in addition to the EOC’s regular training courses; publishing a “Framework on Corporate and School Policies on Sexual Harassment”; and creating a dedicated resource page on the EOC website.

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For media enquiries, please contact Mr. Sam HO at 2106-2187.

Equal Opportunities Commission
9 October 2015

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