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FDH files $170k sex discrimination case vs employer who 'walked around naked'

22 July 2021

By Daisy CL Mandap

EOC filed the case with the District Court on the Filipina's behalf

A Filipina domestic helper is claiming $170,000 in compensation from her former employer who allegedly walked around his house naked in her presence, masturbated in front or her and demanded she show him her breasts.

The Equal Opportunities Commission filed the case with the District Court on her behalf Tuesday, saying it wanted to send out a strong signal that sexual harassment against FDHs in the workplace is a serious offense.


The EOC’s suit demands the employer, identified as Sean Joseph Scully, to pay $150,000 as compensation for the worker’s injured feelings and $20,000 for punitive damages.

 The helper also asked for a written apology from Scully, said to be a primary school teacher.

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In her complaint, the helper also alleged that the employer requested her to watch pornographic films with her and forced her to sleep on the same bed during out-of-town trips.

The EOC says sexual harassment in the workplace is a serious offence

According to the EOC, the alleged offences which happened between October 2017 and January 2019 violated the Sex Discrimination Ordinance, and caused the helper to suffer emotional injuries.


The alleged victim was “highly offended, disgusted, embarrassed and insulted by (the employer’s) unlawful sexual harassment which lasted more than 12 months,” said the EOC.

Scully was alleged to have abused his position and exploited his being a person in authority over the helper, who was then new to Hong Kong.

As a result of the alleged offences, the worker suffered from anxiety, stress and humiliation, said the court document.

Under the Sex Discrimination Ordinance (Cap 480), sexual harassment includes any unwelcome sexual behavior towards another person who is offended, humiliated, or intimidated by such act.


It includes unwelcome sexual advances, unwelcome request for sexual favors, and other unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature. The SDO covers sexual harassment in the employment field.

According to the EOC, it received a total of 519 complaints about sexual harassment in the workplace between 2017 and 2020. That represents 45% of all complaints received by the EOC under the Ordinance.

The annual survey conducted by church-based Mission for Migrant Workers shows the outlook for FDHs has become even more bleak because of the pandemic.

The Mission’s Annual Report 2020 report showed that rape or sexual harassment cases reported by FDHs to the Mission grew to 6% of all complaints made to the group last year, three times as much as the 2% recorded in 2019.

The Mission said most of the cases are still being investigated by the police, although a number have already been dropped, underlining the difficulty faced by migrant workers to gather evidence while living with the perpetrator.

The problem has persisted this year, with fresh cases of alleged rape and sexual harassment being reported by FDHs against their male employers. In nearly all the cases, the worker was new in Hong Kong and was never allowed to take a day off, limiting her chances of seeking outside help.

They include the case of Indonesian worker Putri, who claimed to have been raped twice by her male employer in his house in Yuen Long on Feb 11 this year, causing her to get pregnant.

More recently, on Jun 25 this year, another Indonesian helper, Selly, also sought help from the Mission, saying she had been repeatedly fondled, kissed, hugged and subjected to sexual assault by her male employer since she started working for his family in January.

The Mission has helped Selly file a complaint with the police, and like Putri, is being helped by a solicitors’ firm in pursuing civil claims against their respective employers. 

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