The EOC Gives Legal Assistance in Sexual Harassment Case
The Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) has today (3 September 2018) issued legal proceedings under the Sex Discrimination Ordinance (SDO) Cap. 480 in the District Court on behalf of a woman (the “Claimant”) against her former supervisor (the “1st Respondent”) for sexually harassing her on a number of occasions and her former employer (the “2nd Respondent”) for being vicariously liable for the unlawful sexual harassment acts committed by the 1st Respondent.
Under the SDO, sexual harassment includes any unwelcome sexual advances, unwelcome requests for sexual favours, and other unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature, where a reasonable person, having regard to all the circumstances, would have anticipated that the victim would be offended, humiliated or intimidated.
It has been brought to the EOC’s attention that there were a considerable number of cases whereby employees were exposed to sexual harassment in the workplace. The EOC has received 232 complaints on sexual harassment, representing 44% of total complaints received under the SDO, from 2015 to 2017.
In this particular case, the 1st Respondent asked for the Claimant’s view about sharing a room with him during a business trip. He also engaged in other conducts of sexual nature, which the Claimant found offensive and intimidating. By taking this case to court, the EOC hopes to raise public awareness that sexual harassment in the workplace is unlawful and would have serious legal consequences. The SDO also stipulates that employers may be vicariously liable for any discriminatory and sexual harassment acts done by their employees in the course of their employment, unless the employers can show that they have taken reasonably practicable steps to prevent the employees from doing the unlawful act.
Equal Opportunities Commission
3 September 2018