The EOC Gives Legal Assistance to a Foreign Domestic Helper in a Sexual Harassment Case
The Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) has today (1 March 2023) instituted legal proceedings under the Sex Discrimination Ordinance (SDO), Cap. 480 in the District Court, on behalf of a foreign domestic helper (the Claimant) who says that her former employer (the Respondent) sexually harassed her on a number of occasions during her employment with him, including coming up close to sniff the fragrance of her hair and body after she had taken a shower.
The Claimant also says that the Respondent repeatedly made unwelcomed requests to have sex with her and other vulgar sexual remarks (like wanting a domestic helper to help him have babies); and after her repeated rejections, the Respondent became furious and used severely abusive language to demand having sex with her.
Under the SDO, sexual harassment covers 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 requests for sexual favours, and other unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature. The SDO covers sexual harassment in the employment field.
It has been brought to the EOC’s attention that there continues to be a considerable number of cases whereby employees were exposed to sexual harassment during employment. From 2020 to 2022, the EOC received 504 sexual harassment complaints, representing 51% of all the complaints received by the EOC under the SDO.
By taking this case to court, the EOC hopes to raise public awareness and remind employers that sexual harassment against employees, including foreign domestic helpers, during their employment is unlawful and will attract serious legal consequences. Eliminating sexual harassment remains one of the EOC’s top work priorities.
Equal Opportunities Commission
1 March 2023