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Employer rejects $113k claim of Pinay she took to China to work for friend

22 May 2019

Obaldo's claim was heard at the Labour Tribunal in Yaumatei

By Vir B. Lumicao

An employer who fired her Filipina helper in 2015 for refusing to return to China and work for another person has refused to pay the maid’s claim for damages amounting to $113,000.

The employer, Wong San-wing, said on the second and final day of hearing of Rowena Obaldo’s claim in the Labour Tribunal today, May 21, that she would not pay up because the maid  had found a new employer after her dismissal.

But Obaldo was also terminated by her new employer after one month, Wong said.
Presiding Officer PC Lai reserved her judgment until Jun 11.

Obaldo’s damages claim is based largely on her loss of income in the four years that various authorities were investigating her complaints against Wong, employment agent C.K. Chan and mainland employer D.Z. Huang.
Huang was earlier described in court as Wong’s sister but this turned out to be untrue. Wong said in her testimony that Huang was her cousin but Obaldo said they were just friends.

Wong, Chan and Huang were convicted in 2017 in a “conspiracy to defraud” case filed against them by Immigration, and were each sentenced to six months in jail, suspended for two years. They appealed their conviction in the High Court last September but lost.
During this period, Obaldo was largely unable to work while incurring expenses, so she raised her original claim of  $70,000 to $113,000.

At the continuation of her testimony earlier in the day, Obaldo was asked by Lai what she was doing during the period July 2016 to July 1017.
The Filipina said she did nothing except go to the police to help in the investigation of Wong, Chan and Huang. She also went to court to give evidence as a prosecution witness against them.

But during cross-examination by Wong, the Filipina admitted that she went job-hunting in the United Arab Emirates on Jan 28 last year but returned to Hong Kong after a month.
Then she found an employer in the New Territories on Jul 27 but was terminated after one month following an argument with her male employer.

Wong also tried to bring up Obaldo’s travel to China with her new employers, but Lai cut her short, telling her not to bring up issues that were not relevant to the present case.

Lai chided both Obaldo and Wong a number of times during the trial for unclear statements or irrelevant issues.

The four years since the China episode seemed to have taken it toll on the memory of Obaldo, 48.

In her testimony, she said she returned on a day in September and went to the boarding house of her employment agency.

The next day, she went to the Consulate to report her ordeal, then got a call from the agent who set a meeting at a McDonald’s shop with Wong, during which she was given notice of termination.

When Lai asked her again when she arrived from China, she said at first that she could not recall, but then gave the date as Sept 25.

But a document she submitted in court showed that she was given until Nov 1, 2015 on her job.

If that was so, said Lai, there would have been a six-day lapse between her return from China and the McDonald’s meeting and not just a day.

Obaldo was assisted in her case by the Consulate’s assistance to nationals section.
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