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Conciliated Cases

Race Discrimination Ordinance

Ss4, 10 of RDO

The Complainant (C) is of Pakistani origin. He saw an advertisement published by an education centre (R1) on a website hiring tutors specifying that candidates for the position should possess DSE results of above 3 points in Chinese, English and Mathematics. As C got results better than the requirement and he had previous tutorial experience, he applied for the position with R.

C was invited for an interview through Chinese text messages. C alleged that when he arrived at the education centre as scheduled, a staff member of R1 (R2) asked what his nationality was. C showed his Hong Kong Identity Card at the request of R2, but was told that he was not suitable. When C asked why he was considered not suitable, R2 told him that they had already had enough tutors. However, it was found that the advertisement for tutors was still up afterwards.

Represented by an NGO, C lodged a complaint with the EOC against R1 for race discrimination and against R2 for aiding R1 to do the act. The cases were jointly settled through early conciliation after R1 agreed to delete the correspondence and records in relation to the job application of C and arrange staff training on racial inclusion; R2 agreed to issue a letter of apology to C.

Remarks:

It is unlawful for an employer to discriminate against a job applicant on the ground of his/her race. It is also unlawful for a person to knowingly aid another person to do an act made unlawful by the RDO. Employers are advised to adopt good employment procedures and practices as set out in the Code of Practice on Employment under the Race Discrimination Ordinance.

Ss5, S6, S11 of SDO and Ss4, 10 of RDO

The Complainant (C) is an Indian man. He saw an advertisement for a job responsible for reception and sales published by a fitness service provider (R), and submitted an on-line application to R.

C received an email the same day from a director of R supposedly to her business partner but wrongly copied to him. In that email the director remarked that she could not imagine "an older Indian man fitting in". C did not get the job which he believed was attributable to his race and sex.

C lodged complaints of race and sex discrimination with the EOC against R. The cases were settled through early conciliation after R agreed to pay C HK$ 5,000 as terms of settlement for both the complaints.

Remarks:

It is unlawful for an employer to discriminate against a job applicant on the ground of his/her race and/or sex unless an exception applies. For instance, if sex or race is a Genuine Occupational Qualification of the job.

Employers should consider all job applications with reference to genuine job requirements regardless of irrelevant attributes or stereotypes about a race or sex.

Ss 4 & 10 of RDO

The Complainant (C) is of Indian origin. He alleged that the Respondent (R), a telecommunication company, had unnecessarily listed Chinese language skill as a requirement for the post of technical operator. C applied for such position several rounds but was not selected for interviews despite his relevant local experience in the industry. C believed that R used the language skill requirement to screen out non-Chinese applicants.

C lodged a complaint of race discrimination with the EOC against R. The case was settled through fast track conciliation after R agreed to refer C to other units for their consideration and agreed to invite C for interview when the next appropriate vacancy is available.

Remarks:

The Race Discrimination Ordinance makes it unlawful to for an employer to discriminate against a job applicant on the ground of his/her race. It is also unlawful for an employer to set unjustifiable requirement that applicants of certain races are less able to comply with.

It is advisable that employers should make all recruitment decisions on the basis of consistent selection criteria. Consistent selection criteria (including language requirements) should reflect job requirements and commensurate with the satisfactory performance of the job.

Ss 4 and 27 of RDO

The Complainant (C) is a non-Chinese speaking resident in a building. The Respondent (R) is the property management of the building. C claimed that R’s notices to residents posted in the building were available in Chinese only. Since C could not understand the language, he asked R to provide him with English copies of the notices. However, the request was turned down.

C lodged a race discrimination complaint with the EOC against R. The case was settled through early conciliation after R agreed to publish all future notices in Chinese and English simultaneously as well as issuING English translation of some previous notices that were published in Chinese only.

Remarks:

Under the Race Discrimination Ordinance, it is unlawful for service providers to apply unjustifiable conditions or requirements which in practice adversely affect customers of a particular racial group. Service providers should review their language policy to ensure that customers of different races are given equal access to services.

Ss 4, 27 39 and 47(2) of RDO

The Complainant (C) is of Pakistani origin. He alleged that a mobile phone service provider (R) had discriminated against him by issuing receipts in Chinese and providing information through its website in Chinese only. C also alleged that the employees of R’s agent in R’s shop, while he waited for service there, had referred to him as “ACHA’ and remarked that “black people” were trouble makers when they talked to each other.

C lodged complaints with the EOC against R for racial discrimination and vicarious liability for racial harassment. Both cases were settled through early conciliation. In relation to the racial discrimination complaint, R agreed to provide bilingual receipts as well as website information. In relation to the racial harassment complaint, C accepted the verbal account of investigation into the incident of racial harassment given by R’s agent and the verbal undertaking of R and its agent to provide training to improve the manner of their employees in handling non-Chinese customers and on anti-discrimination as well as improving the complaint handling mechanism.

Remarks:

Principals are liable for the unlawful acts of their agents under the Race Discrimination Ordinance.

Ss 4 and 27 of RDO

The two Complainants (Cs), a Pakistani and a Nepalese by origin, were friends. They enrolled for a makeup course and confirmed the arrangements on the phone and via text messaging. Both of them alleged that when they arrived at the class as scheduled, the tutor looked at them in a very strange way. He refused to let them join the class with the reason that the class would be conducted in Cantonese, though he spoke to them in English. Cs explained that they had no problem with the language as what mattered most was the practical part of the class. Furthermore, one of the Cs could speak basic Cantonese. Despite the explanation, the tutor refused to allow them to join class. One of the Cs contacted the responsible person of R on the spot and was told to leave the class. They were informed the next day that as the English of R’s tutor was not good enough, the company would refund them the course fee, which meant that no class would be offered to Cs.

Cs alleged that the refusal to provide them the makeup course was based on their race.

Cs lodged separate complaints of race discrimination with the EOC against R. Both the complaints were settled through early conciliation with R agreed to provide Cs a makeup course with the same condition as the one they had enrolled for previously. The makeup course would be conducted in Cantonese by another tutor.

Remarks:

It is unlawful under the Race Discrimination Ordinance (“RDO”) for a service provider to refuse service to customers on the ground of their race. It may also constitute indirect discrimination if the service provider applies a requirement to all customers, e.g. a requirement to speak Cantonese, but the requirement in practice affects customers of a particular racial group more adversely, and such a requirement cannot be justified. It is advisable for service providers to review their requirements, if any, imposed on customers are justifiable and explore if the objectives for imposing the requirements can be achieved by other means.

Ss 27 of RDO

The Complainant (C), a German, does not read Chinese or speak Cantonese. The Respondent (R) is a convenience retail stores operator. C stated that he had visited R’s store in the vicinity of his residence and found the receipts and coupons given to him were in Chinese only. The staff members there could not communicate with him in English and the website of R provided information only in Chinese.

C lodged a complaint of race discrimination with the EOC against R. Parties attempted fast track conciliation, however, unsuccessfully. Investigation into the complaint was hence conducted. After the investigation, parties attempted to resolve the disputes by way of conciliation. The case was settled as R agreed for actions included: (1) to provide usage instructions and expiry date in English on coupons issued by R; (2) to provide training course to R's staff team to improve English speaking skills; (3) to provide "cue cards" to R's staff team for frequently asked questions; and (4) to launch English version website.

Remarks:

It is unlawful under the Race Discrimination Ordinance when a service provider applies a condition or requirement to everyone, but in practice affects customers of a particular racial group more adversely, and such a condition or requirement cannot be justified. It is advisable for service providers to take the initiative in reviewing the language policy of its services to customers of different races so as to foster a more inclusive society.

Ss 7, 39 and 47 of RDO

The Complainant (C), an Indian, can converse fluently in Cantonese. C alleged that the receptionist of a Chinese restaurant had racially harassed him by calling him with a racial remark – "Cha Chai" ("差仔") as he walked into the restaurant with his friends.

Remarks:

The Race Discrimination Ordinance ("RDO") makes it unlawful for a service provider to make unwelcome comments or remarks on the ground of a service user's race. Harassment on the ground of race occurs when a person engages in unwelcome conduct (which may include an oral or a written statement) towards another person on the ground of the latter's race, in circumstances where a reasonable person would have anticipated that the latter person would be offended, humiliated or intimidated.

In addition, the RDO stipulates that anything done by an employee in the course of employment is treated as done by the employer as well under the RDO. This is so even if the employer did not know or did not approve of the act of the employee, unless the employer has taken reasonably practicable steps to prevent discrimination and harassment from happening.

Ss 27 & 47 of RDO

The Complainant (C), a flat owner of a residential building, is a South East Asian. She alleged that while she was entering the building and talking over the mobile phone in her mother tongue on a Sunday morning, the security guard of the building requested her to leave in a very rude manner. C alleged that the security guard assumed her to be a "Bun Mui" (a Filipina domestic worker) as he said it was a Sunday morning and she spoke in a language unknown to him. C alleged that the security guard, a substitute worker, claimed that he had not seen C before. Nevertheless, despite the confirmation of a cleaner at the spot that C was a resident of the building, the security guard still refused to let her in.

C lodged a complaint of race discrimination with the EOC against the security guard as well as the security guard's employer for vicarious liability. The case was settled through fast track conciliation after the security guard agreed to make a charity donation, while the employer agreed to issue an apology letter to C for the unpleasant experience as well as to provide training on anti-discrimination legislations to its frontline staff.

Remarks:

The Race Discrimination Ordinance makes it unlawful for a service provider to refuse to provide goods, services or facilities on the ground of a person’s race, or to deliberately omitting to provide goods, services or facilities of the like quality, in the like manner and on the like terms as other service users of a different race.

In addition, the RDO stipulates that anything done by an employee in the course of employment is treated as done by the employer as well under the RDO. This is so even if the employer did not know or did not approve of what the employee has done, unless the employer has taken reasonably practicable steps to prevent discrimination and harassment from happening.

Ss 27 of RDO

The Complainant (C), a Pakistani, applied with a bank to open a bank account and provided all the required documents to an assistant manager of the bank. He alleged that the assistant manager refused his application as he was a non-permanent resident. C alleged that the refusal should be made on the ground of his race, as he knew some friends who were not permanent residents of Hong Kong but having bank accounts with the bank.

C lodged a complaint of race discrimination with the EOC against the bank. The case was settled through fast track conciliation after the bank agreed to arrange C to re-apply for a bank account with the bank's usual internal procedures and criteria in handling such application.

Remarks:

The Race Discrimination Ordinance makes it unlawful for a service provider to refuse to provide goods, services or facilities on the ground of a person's race, or to deliberately omitting to provide goods, services or facilities of the like quality, in the like manner and on the like terms as other service users of a different race.

S27 of RDO

The Complainant (C) is a Filipino domestic worker. She alleged that the Respondent (R), a bank, discriminated against her on the ground of race. R required C to provide her passport in order to open a bank account despite her provision of an HKID card and a proof of address.

C lodged a complaint of racial discrimination with the EOC. The case was settled through conciliation after R provided an apology letter.

Remarks:

It is unlawful under the Race Discrimination Ordinance to discriminate against a person on the ground of race in the provision of goods, facilities, and services. In this case, if C was treated unfavorably on the ground of her race in the terms, manner, and quality in which the service is provided by R, such provision of service may amount to racial discrimination.
 

S27 of RDO

The Complainant (C) is a Filipino domestic helper. She and her employers resided at a private housing estate managed by Respondent 1 (R1). C alleged that the staff, Respondent 2 (R2), of R1 discriminated against her on the ground of her race by requiring her to leave the clubhouse seating area of the housing estate where she resided.

C alleged that both R1 and R2 committed racial discrimination and lodged a complaint with the EOC. The case was settled through conciliation after R1 agreed to post a notice in a prominent area of the club house to state its non-discriminatory stance and R2 agreed to give a written apology.

Remarks:

It is unlawful under the Race Discrimination Ordinance to discriminate against a person on the ground of race in the provision of goods, facilities and services. In this case, denying a person the use of facilities because of his/her race may amount to race discrimination.

S27 of RDO

The Complainant (C), a Chinese man, alleged that the Respondent (R), an insurance company, discriminated against him on the ground of race by requiring him to sign a document in English as a part of the claims procedure. C stated that he did not understand the document and had requested a Chinese version; however, the request was declined by R.

C alleged that R's refusal was racial discrimination and lodged a complaint with the EOC. The case was settled through conciliation after R agreed to provide the document in Chinese to C.

Remarks:

It is unlawful under the Race Discrimination Ordinance to discriminate against a person on the ground of race in providing goods, facilities, and services. Although language is not defined as race under the RDO, language used by people is often associated with their race. It may amount to indirect race discrimination to impose language requirement or condition unless that is justifiable. In this case, the provision of the insurance document in English only implies that the customers should be able to understand English. Since Chinese is one of the official languages in Hong Kong and is widely used, it is unlikely that the insurance company will be able to justify not providing the document in Chinese.

S27 of RDO

The Complainant (C), a Muslim woman originally from Pakistan, went to use a swimming pool managed by the Respondent (R). C had to cover up the curves of her body due to her religious customs, so she wore a T-shirt and long pants on top of her swimming suit. She was not allowed to swim by the pool's staff due to her clothing, but she alleged seeing other Chinese women in a very similar type of outfit using the facility.

C lodged a complaint with the EOC against R for racial discrimination in the usage terms of the service and facility. R denied the allegation and explained that such an outfit was allowed by their policy. They felt that the incident might have arisen from a misunderstanding between C and the pool's staff about whether C was wearing a swimsuit underneath her T-shirt. The case was settled through conciliation after the concerned staff agreed to apologize verbally and R confirmed the policy that persons wearing loose T-shirt and loose pants (covering the knees) on top of their swimming suit are allowed to use the swimming pool.

Remarks:

Under the Race Discrimination Ordinance (RDO), it is unlawful to discriminate against a person on the ground of race in providing goods, facilities, and services. While the RDO does not apply to discrimination on the ground of religion, some requirements or conditions relating to religion may result in indirect discrimination against certain racial groups, in which case the RDO may apply. If the swimming pool had a policy against wearing an attire such as that worn by C, it may be discriminatory against Muslims and indirectly against Pakistanis, most of whom are Muslim, and the RDO would be applicable.

S27 of RDO

The Complainant (C) is a foreign domestic helper. She and her employers resided at a private housing estate managed by the Respondent (R). C alleged that R discriminated against her on the ground of her race by not allowing her to take a seat on the sofa of the housing estate's club house. She was asked to leave as the seats are for Chinese people only. Her employer represented her to lodge the complaint.

C lodged a complaint against R for racial discrimination with the EOC. The case was settled through conciliation after R promised not to discriminate against any other person on the ground of race.

Remarks:

It is unlawful under the Race Discrimination Ordinance to discriminate against a person on the ground of race in the provision of goods, facilities, and services. In this case, refusing to let a person use facilities because of his/her race may amount to race discrimination.

S27 of RDO

The Complainant (C) alleged the Respondent (R), a video rental shop, had discriminated against him by restricting their service to Japanese people only. R provides video rental service for Japanese films to its members. R refused C's application to be a member because C was not Japanese.

C alleged R's decision was racial discrimination and lodged a complaint with the EOC. The case was settled through conciliation after R agreed to provide membership service to C.

Remarks:

It is unlawful under the Race Discrimination Ordinance to discriminate against a person on the ground of race in the provision of goods, facilities, and services. In this case, if C's race was the reason for refusal of the membership application, such refusal of service could be discriminatory.

S (4 and 27) of RDO

The Complainant (C), belonging to an ethnic minority community of Hong Kong, visited an outlet of a restaurant chain (R) for lunch with his father during weekend. C said they were served good food but claimed the manner in which the service was provided was discriminatory. According to C, staff at R placed the bill for the food at his table a few minutes after serving food, while other diners were not subjected to the same procedure. C felt he was meted different treatment because of his race while the others were not because they were local Chinese and white people.

C lodged a complaint of race discrimination against R. R claimed that it was their standard practice of handing over the bill together with the meal during peak hours (e.g. at lunch) and was not, in any manner, intended to discriminate C. The case was settled through early conciliation after R agreed to change their practice and hand over the bill only after seeking approval from the customer.

Remarks:

Under the Race Discrimination Ordinance, it is unlawful if a service provider treats a customer less favourably because of his/her race in the terms, manner and quality in which the service is provided. In this case the restaurant requires only the customer belonging to certain ethnic group to settle the bill before finishing the meal while other customers are not asked to do so could be discriminatory.

Ss 7, 39(3) of RDO

The Complainant (C) is a Chinese man who is married to a woman of mixed race. The two lived together with the stepfather of C's wife, a non-Chinese, and their daughter on a private housing estate managed by a owners' corporation.

The owners' corporation had established a Whatsapp chat group administered by the Chairperson (R) of the corporation for the purpose of communicating with residents matters pertaining to the management of the estate.

C alleged that R had called him names on the ground of the race of his family members in the Whatsapp chat group.

Represented by his wife, C lodged a complaint with the EOC against R for racial harassment. The case was settled through early conciliation after R agreed to give a written apology to C in the chat group.

Remarks:

Under the RDO, it is unlawful for a person to harass a person on the ground of the race of that person or that person’s near relatives in relation to the management of premises. Near relatives in relation to a person include the person's spouse, a parent of the person or of the spouse and a child of the person or the spouse of such a child etc.

S7, S39, S47 and S48 of RDO

The Complainants (Cs) are Filipinos. Most of them were residents of a private housing estate managed by a property management company (R1), with one of them being a visitor. They alleged that while sitting in the common areas of the housing estate in various occasions including an occasion to celebrate Christmas organized for residents, the security guards of R1 and a resident of the same housing estate (R2) approached them and demanded them to leave in very rude manners. The same did not happen to other Chinese or European residents. Remarks such as they would make the place dirty or “you are dirty because you are Filipino maid” were made by R2. The expulsion took place in front of many other residents on the spot. Cs felt humiliated, insulted and belittled.

Cs lodged separate complaints, represented by the same authorized person, against R1 for racial harassment and against R2 for aiding the unlawful acts.

The complaints were settled through early conciliation with the following terms of settlement:

R1 agreed to set up guidelines for handling of complaints regarding gathering at common areas of the housing estate and ensure the proper implementation of the guidelines by educating the handling staff. Notices with contact numbers of control room and management office would be posted in public places so that residents may contact R1 for assistance where necessary. Residents/users of the housing estate may seek help from the police where necessary and R1 would co-operate with the police where appropriate. Complaints from residents would be investigated, regardless of their race, fairly and provide advice where appropriate.

R2 agreed, should he lodge complaints for irregularities in the common areas of the housing estate, he would stay out-of-sight while R1’s staff members take follow-up action for a trial period. If R2 finds that R1’s staff members are not carrying out their duties properly in the course of following up the complaints after the trial period, R2 could observe at a distance without interfering with the process to monitor the work of R1’s staff members. He could report the problems to R1 afterwards.

Remarks:

Under the RDO, it is unlawful for a person concerned with the provision of goods, facilities or services, or in relation to the management of premises to racially harass a user or a person occupying the premises. Employers would be liable for the unlawful act done by their employees in the course of employment, whether or not it was done with the knowledge or approval of the employer. It shall be a defence for the employer to prove that reasonably practicable steps have been taken to prevent the employee from doing that act.

Furthermore, a person who knowingly aids another person to do an act made unlawful by the RDO is to be treated as doing the act himself or herself.

S45 and S48 of RDO

The Complainant (C), a South East Asian national, came across racially derogatory and demeaning remarks, such as "swine" and "meaner than dogs", targeted at the people of her nationality while surfing a discussion forum at a website managed by the Respondent (R). C felt humiliated by these remarks.

C lodged a complaint with the EOC alleging race discrimination against R for allowing its members to post remarks which could incite hatred towards people of her race. The remarks were immediately removed by R. The case was settled through conciliation after R agreed to post a notice reminding its members and users that it is against the RDO to post racially derogatory remarks.

Remarks:

Under S45 of the Race Discrimination Ordinance (RDO) it is unlawful for a person (in this case the writer who has written and posted the derogatory remarks), by any activity in public, to incite hatred towards, serious contempt for, or severe ridicule of another person or members of a class of persons on the ground of the race of the person or members of the class of persons.

Under S48 of the RDO, the website company could be seen as aiding the unlawful act if it allowed its members to post such remarks.

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