Equal Opportunities Commission


Press Releases

Press Releases

Court Sets Precedent by Awarding Damages in Pregnancy Discrimination Case


The EOC welcomes the District Court's assessment of damages in the case of Yuen Wai Han v South Elderly Affairs Limited given today (Friday, 23 May 2003). Following an earlier ruling in which the District Court held that an elderly home unlawfully discriminated a pregnant woman by refusing to employ her as a supervisor, the Court today assessed the damages the elderly home should pay to the plaintiff and ordered a total sum of HK$155,000 to be paid.

This total sum comprised of three different components: (1) loss of income; (2) injury to feelings; and (3) punitive damages. The award for loss of income was HK$62,500; and the award for injury to feelings was HK$62,500; and punitive damages was HK$30,000.

In making the award for injury to feelings, the Court referred to guidelines which divided discrimination cases into 3 bands in terms of seriousness. In future, this will help parties in discrimination cases to assess realistically the remedies they can expect to obtain through legal proceedings, and in turn will help to make the process of conciliation administered by the EOC more effective.

The award of punitive damages was made because, following the plaintiff's complaint to the EOC about the unlawful discrimination, the elderly home made a malicious and unsubstantiated criminal allegation against her to the police. The resulted in the plaintiff being arrested and treated like a criminal. The Court held that this malicious act merited punishment by way of punitive damages. This should send a clear signal to perpetrators of unlawful discrimination, not to further victimize those who suffer from unlawful discrimination.

Click here for District Court ruling (English only)

Enquiry: Mr. Sam HO 21062187