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Tribunal awards maid’s $26,000 claim vs. employer

04 April 2018

By Vir B. Lumicao 

A Filipino maid who had lodged labor cases against her employer for alleged illegal deductions and maltreatment won close to $26,000 in claims against the latter at the Labour Tribunal on Mar 23.

Tribunal presiding officer Daniel Tang granted Ariane Dimacali’s claim against Lau Wo-ying after the employer failed for the second time to attend the hearing, this time allegedly because she was on a trip abroad.

The resolution of the Tribunal case was a double victory of sorts for Dimacali, 28, against Lau, who allegedly made illegal deductions from her salary for every breakage or wasted food, including vegetables, in addition to maltreatment and other abuses.

In late January, the Tseung Kwan O police dropped their investigation into a theft case that the employer’s daughter had filed against Dimacali on Nov 13 last year after they argued over the way the maid sliced cucumbers.

Dimacali had said in submissions to the Labour Department and the Tribunal that on the same day Lau terminated her without notice and without paying her anything, including her November salary.

Lau’s absence on Mar 23 obviously incensed Tang, who dismissed a woman claiming to be Lau’s daughter and wanted to represent the defendant.

“Why didn’t Madam Lau inform the court that she would not be available for today’s hearing so this court can make a direction?” asked the presiding officer, looking upset.

The woman, Miss Lo, said she had faxed a message on Mar 22 informing the court that Lau could not attend the hearing because she was out of town.

Tang said as Lau was absent again, the court would have to decide on the domestic worker’s total claim of $25,974 in the employer’s absence.

The presiding officer told Dimacali to give evidence, and afterwards granted the helper’s claim of one month’s wage of $4,310 in lieu of notice, unpaid wages of $5,243.83, illegal deductions totaling $9,103, one-way air fare of $1,115, travel allowance of $100, severance pay of $6,045.80 and $190 for her visa extension cost.

The total award was $25,926.29.

Tang said the Tribunal would send Dimacali the formal award notice after seven days.

Whether Lau would pay up is another matter since the Filipina just had seven days left on her visa. She is, however, determined to look for a new employer.

On Feb 20, Tang told Dimacali he wanted to decide on the case and award her claim, but was adamant about seeing a proof that the police case filed against her by Lau’s daughter Chris Ng Sze-wai had already been dropped.

She was accused by Ng of stealing a necklace purportedly worth $170,000, which the maid said she might have accidentally dumped in a rubbish bin at Quarry Bay Park when she emptied her bag of crumpled tissue.

The worker said the police told her on Jan 27 that they had dismissed her case and had returned her $600 bail money, but Tang insisted on a proof.

The police would not give her a clearance personally but explained they would send it to the Tribunal if the Labour Department made a formal request. The Tribunal received the document shortly before the last hearing.

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