Equal Opportunities Commission


Press Releases

Press Releases

EOC Takes Legal Action Against Publishers for Discriminatory Advertisements Under the Sex Discrimination Ordinance


The Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC) announced today (22 September 1997) that it has instituted legal proceedings under the Sex Discrimination Ordinance (SDO) Cap. 480 against the following publishers as a result of allegations that:-

A discriminatory advertisement was placed in the South China Morning Post on 19th June 1997 advertising for "male messenger / cleaner"

Discriminatory advertisements were placed in the Wen Wei Po on 18th June 1997 and 20th June 1997 advertising for female instructor for "Chinese painting and calligraphy"

A discriminatory advertisement was placed in the Apple Daily on 5th June 1997 advertising for "male bartenders working part-time at night"

A discriminatory advertisement was placed in the Ming Pao on 27th May 1997 advertising for "female reception clerk"

Dr. Fanny Cheung Mui-ching, Chairperson of the EOC, said, "Under Section 43 of the SDO, use of job description which is sex specific shall be taken to indicate an intention to discriminate unless the advertisement contains an indication to the contrary."

Dr. Cheung continued, "Under Section 82 of the SDO, the EOC is applying to the District Court for decisions that the Respondents have contravened Section 43(1) of the SDO and for orders imposing financial penalties on the Respondents. Lawyers of the EOC will be handling these cases."

"Discriminatory advertisements based on sex, marital status, pregnancy or disability are unlawful. Publishers and advertisers should be alert to gender bias or disability bias advertisements. They are welcome to contact EOC for advice,"Dr. Cheung said.

"Recruitment advertisements are very often the first step in the recruitment process. It is important that the advertisements do not carry unlawful discrimination. On the other hand, if unlawful discrimination takes place during the selection process, an aggrieved person can lodge a complaint with the EOC. On receipt of a written complaint, the EOC shall investigate and endeavour, by conciliation, to effect a settlement," Dr. Cheung added.

Before legal action is taken on discriminatory advertisements, the EOC has embarked upon a series of activities including the issue of press release and written advice as well as holding of briefing sessions so as to inform the public, in particular publishers, advertisers and employment agencies of the provisions of the law relating to discriminatory advertisements.

Enquiry: EOC Hotline 25118211