The EOC Welcomes the Judgment Handed down by the Court of Appeal on 26 February 2021
The Equal Opportunities Commission (“the Commission”) today (3 March 2021) welcomes the latest judgment handed down by the Court of Appeal (i.e. CAMP 51/2019: Chok Kin Ming (束健銘) v. Equal Opportunities Commission（平等機會委員會）on 26 February 2021, and wishes to highlight that the courts involved of different levels take the view that, among other things:
(i) the decision of the Commission not to pay gratuity to the claimant (Chok King Ming, a former senior staff member of the Commission) was not perverse or irrational;
(ii) there is no basis for any suggestion that the Commission’s exercise of discretion in not paying gratuity to the claimant was tainted with impropriety in the disciplinary action; and
(iii) the internal investigation into the claimant’s misconduct carried out by the Commission had complied with the requirements of fairness and reasonableness.
The dispute arose from the decision of the Commission to not pay gratuity to the claimant at the expiry of his contract of employment in 2014. Since the claimant commenced legal proceedings to claim for the gratuity, the Commission has been wrongfully questioned or portrayed as an irresponsible employer. In the above mentioned judgment, the Court of Appeal has refused to grant leave to the claimant to appeal against the decision of the High Court which ruled in favour of the Commission, and ruled that “the application is without merit”.
In the claimant’s last employment contract with the Commission, it was stipulated that the claimant would receive a gratuity for the period of service upon satisfactory completion of the agreement. Subsequently, the Commission decided not to pay him gratuity due to his conflicted roles and misconduct at a forum during the public consultation period for the Commission’s Discrimination Law Review in 2014.
The Commission has in place a set of Code of Conduct governing the behaviour of an employee in his or her official capacity. Where an employee is involved in an activity which is in direct opposition to the work of the Commission, the employee had breached the Code of Conduct of the Commission.
As a statutory body providing services to the public, integrity is very important to the Commission. All employees of the Commission are required to maintain high moral and ethical standards in accordance with its internal Code of Conduct.
The Commission reiterates that the judgments of the Labour Tribunal, Court of First Instance and Court of Appeal are testimonies to the Commission’s compliance with the requirements of fairness and reasonableness in dealing with the claimant’s misconduct during his employment with the Commission.
The relevant facts of the case and the procedural background are set out in details in the judgment (Link: https://legalref.judiciary.hk/lrs/common/ju/ju_frame.jsp?DIS=133818&currpage=T).
Equal Opportunities Commission
3 March 2021