EOC Gives Legal Assistance to a Foreign Domestic Helper in a Disability Discrimination Case
The Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) has today (22 December 2020) issued legal proceedings under the Disability Discrimination Ordinance (DDO), Cap. 487 in the District Court, on behalf of a foreign domestic helper (the Claimant). The Claimant alleged that her former employer (the Respondent) discriminated against her by terminating her employment on the ground of her disability (i.e. cervical cancer) and related sick leave.
The Claimant had taken sick leave for around three weeks after a provisional diagnosis of cervical cancer. She was dismissed by the Respondent merely a few days after she was confirmed to have stage IIIB cervical cancer, with the termination letter expressly attributing the reason for her dismissal to her sickness and related sick leave.
The DDO protects persons with disability against discrimination, harassment and vilification. Under the DDO, it is unlawful for an employer to dismiss an employee on the ground of the employee’s disability (which includes an illness).
It has been brought to the EOC’s attention that it is not uncommon that foreign domestic helpers are subjected to discriminatory treatment by their employers after falling ill. 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
22 December 2020