The EOC Gives Legal Assistance to a Foreign Domestic Helper in a Disability Discrimination Case
The Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) has today (1 November 2019) issued legal proceedings under the Disability Discrimination Ordinance (Cap. 487) (“DDO”) in the District Court, on behalf of a foreign domestic helper (the Claimant) who claimed that, by terminating her employment, her former employer (the Respondent) discriminated against her on the ground of the disabilities of her associates (i.e. her deceased parents).
The Claimant was assigned to take up additional heavy renovation work for the Respondent. As a result, she experienced high blood pressure, dizziness and slurred speech. While the Claimant was in hospital, in response to the Respondent’s enquiry, she revealed to the Respondent that her parents had died of strokes in their fifties. On the night when she was discharged from hospital, the Respondent terminated her employment with immediate effect. The termination letter stated clearly that she was dismissed because of her deceased parents’ medical history.
Under the DDO, it is unlawful for a person to discriminate against another person by treating him/her less favourably on the ground of the disability of the latter’s “associate”. The DDO has defined an “associate” to include “a spouse of the person”, “another person who is living with the person on a genuine domestic basis”, “a relative of the person”, etc.
It has been brought to the EOC’s attention that it is not uncommon that foreign domestic helpers are subjected to discriminatory treatment after getting sick. By taking this case to the court, the EOC hopes to raise public awareness and remind employers that disability discrimination in the workplace is unlawful and employers should provide reasonable accommodation for employees with disabilities.
Equal Opportunities Commission
1 November 2019