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‘Abused’ Filipina gets labour case put on hold while police investigate

15 January 2018

By Daisy CL Mandap

A Filipina domestic worker who claims to have been abused by her employer’s live-in companion for more than a year has asked the Labour Tribunal to postpone hearing her case until the police has completed its investigation.

Lanie Grace Rosareal, 27, however, accepted a partial payment of $2,500 from her employer, Leung Shet-ying, 63, for her unpaid salary and travel allowance, at the hearing held on Jan. 4.
Lanie Grace Rosareal

Leung, who at first resisted paying Rosareal’s claim for return air fare, eventually offered a further $1,200 for this, but the helper rejected the offer, saying she wished to wait for the conclusion of all investigations into her case first.

But at the suggestion of deputy presiding officer Mary Wu, Rosareal agreed to drop her claim for compensation and one month’s salary in lieu of notice.

Wu made it clear the Filipina could not claim for salary in lieu, even if it was true that she had been abused, saying this was not in accordance with the Labour Ordinance.

The officer also cast doubt on whether Rosareal could claim employees’ compensation, saying this was awarded only for injuries sustained in the course of work.

But she agreed that Rosareal had the right to ask for an adjournment pending the outcome of the police investigation.

“For the rest of the items that are in dispute, the case will be adjourned sine die (for an indefinite period) pending the investigation of the police,” said Wu.

Rosareal had worked for Leung and her companion, Au Wai-chun, 65, from Jan 24, 2014 until Nov. 9, 2017 when the Filipina and her fellow domestic worker Rowela Subiono Suete, 36, were rescued from their employer’s house in Tseung Kwan-o.

Suete has since returned to the Philippines after settling her claim against Leung.

But Rosareal, who claims to have been physically abused by Au since May 2016, sought help from the Philippine Overseas Labor Office and the Mission for Migrant Workers to file a case against her employer.

During a conciliation hearing at the Labour Department in November last year, the two parties failed to reach agreement, so Rosareal’s case was referred to the Labour Tribunal.

The Filipina helper is seeking a total claim of $207,423.00 against Leung for unpaid salary for six months, wage in lieu, cancelled holidays, return air fare, travel allowance and compensation.

She alleged that Leung would pay her salary each month, but would then tell her to settle the penalties imposed on her by Au, a retired civil servant, for all sorts of alleged misdeed.

The monthly payment she got was reportedly never enough to settle all of Au’s claims, which were duly recorded in a notebook of penalties that Rosareal managed to take with her when she fled her employer’s house.

Rosareal claims Au subjected her to almost daily torture.

The elderly woman reportedly hit her on the head with a knife and a TV remote control, boxed in the arm, clawed on her wrists and neck, poked at the throat with a pair of scissors, made to kneel and bang her head on the floor.

Au reportedly did these less than two years after she was sentenced to two years in prison, suspended for 18 months, for throwing a cup of hot water at a Bangladeshi maid also hired by Leung earlier.

Aside from the police investigation, Rosareal’s complaint of physical abuse against Au and Leung’s non-payment of wages and withholding of her passport are being looked into by the Labour Department.

Immigration is also investigating her report that Leung made her work daily in the house of Au’s son which is in an adjacent building in Tseung Kwan-O.

Rosareal was accompanied at the hearing by the Mission’s case officer Edwina Antonio.

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