Equal Opportunities Commission


Know Your Rights

Know Your Rights

Are you being treated unfairly at work because of your family status? The Family Status Discrimination Ordinance (FSDO) protects workers from discrimination in the employment field.

Do You Have the Responsibility for the Care of Your Immediate Family Members?

If the answer is yes, then you are protected under the Family Status Discrimination Ordinance (FSDO). 

Who Are My Immediate Family Members?

They are the persons that related to you by blood, marriage, adoption or affinity.

Have Any of These Things Ever Happened to You at Work?

  • You did not get hired because you told the employer that you are the only care-taker of your young son at home.

  • You got fired or laid off because you failed to balance your family commitments with the unjustifiable demand of late hours work of your company.

  • You got turned down for a promotion or transfer because of your family status.

You are not alone. As a care-taker of your family members, it is against the law for your employer to discriminate against you on the ground of your family status.

What Can You Do If You Are Discriminated Against?

  1. Write down what happened.
    Write down the date, time and place of the incident as soon as possible. Include what was said and who were there. Keep a copy of these notes at home. They will be useful if you decide to file a complaint.
  2. Get emotional support from friends and family.
    It can be very upsetting to feel you have been treated unfairly at work. Think about what you want to do. Get help to do it.
  3. Talk to your union representative if you are represented by a union.
  4. Talk to your employer.
    Your employer may have an equal opportunity officer or a way for you to file a "Complaint". Check your employee handbook or talk to the personnel department.
  5. Find out how other employees who have family status have been treated.
  6. Keep doing a good job.
  7. Keep a record of your work.
    Keep copies at home of your job evaluations and any letters or memos that show that you did a good job. Your boss may criticize your job performance later on in order to defend his or her act of discrimination.
  8. Lodge a complaint with the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC). 
    The Commission was set up to protect you. You can call us at 2511-8211.
  9. Find out more about your legal rights.
    You do not need a lawyer to lodge a complaint but you can talk with a lawyer or file a law suit independently, outside the Equal Opportunities Commission.

You Can Stop Family Status Discrimination

If you are treated less favourably on the ground of your family status, you can:

  • Bring suit in the District Court.

  • Lodge a complaint with the EOC and resolve the problem through conciliation. Settlement agreement could be an end to the behaviour; a letter of apology; for the company to establish an equal opportunities policy; or for financial compensation.

  • Apply for legal assistance if conciliation is not successful.

Invite the EOC to come and give talks to your staff or call the EOC and ask to join the scheduled talks.

Where to Get Help?

The EOC is there to help you. There are educational materials on discrimination laws such as “DDO and I”, “SDO and I”, “FSDO and I”. A series of “Know Your Rights” in Sexual Harassment, Pregnancy Discrimination, and other areas are also available.