The EOC Gives Legal Assistance in a Sexual Harassment Case
The Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) has today (10 December 2019) issued legal proceedings under the Sex Discrimination Ordinance (SDO), Cap. 480 in the District Court, on behalf of a woman (the Claimant) who claims that she was sexually harassed in the course of receiving massage service. She alleged sexual harassment in that Respondent 1, a male masseur, inappropriately massaged her outer and inner thighs while providing foot massage service to her. Respondent 2 being the employer of Respondent 1 was vicariously liable for the alleged sexual harassment acts.
The Claimant has obtained an anonymity order from the Court to protect her identity and she is identified as “Y” in the Notice of Claim.
Under the SDO, sexual harassment is any unwelcome sexual behaviour directed towards the harassed person in circumstances which a reasonable person would have anticipated that the harassed person would be offended, humiliated, or intimidated. It includes unwelcome sexual advances, unwelcome request for sexual favours, and other unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature. The SDO covers sexual harassment acts occurred in prescribed areas, including the provision of goods, facilities or services.
From 2016 to 2018, the EOC received 310 complaints on sexual harassment, representing 45% of total complaints received under the SDO.
By taking this case to court, the EOC hopes to raise public awareness on prevention of sexual harassment, and to remind employers to take reasonably practicable steps to prevent sexual harassment; otherwise, they might be held vicariously liable for the unlawful acts of sexual harassment committed by employees in the course of their employment, even if they are done without the employer’s knowledge or approval..
Equal Opportunities Commission
10 December 2019