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Filipina DH wins sexual harassment suit vs absent male employer

27 October 2021

By The SUN 

The EOC filed the case on behalf of the Filipina after attempts at conciliation failed

A Filipina domestic helper who sued her Canadian male employer in District Court in July for masturbating in front of her and walking around the house naked has won her claim for damages which have yet to be assessed, plus costs. 

But enforcement of the ruling is another issue, as respondent Sean Joseph Scully returned to Canada for good on Jul 23, three days after the Equal Opportunities Commission filed a sexual harassment case against him on behalf of the victim.

In the decision written by Chief District Judge Justin Ko and published on Oct 21, Scully is said to have flown home to Canada after rejecting the court notices that were being handed to him at the airport by a male co-teacher at Fung Kai Liu Yun Sum Memorial School.

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Instead of accepting the court letters which were posted to his school, Scully took them then wrote “Moved to Canada, Return to sender” before handing them back to his colleague, a Mr Au-yeung.

Judge Ko said he accepted that “the respondent must have realized what he was being served were court documents that required his attention and that the personal service effected on 23 July 2021 was valid.”

He dispelled doubts about service of the notices by saying there had been an exchange of correspondence between the EOC and Scully previously during attempts at conciliation,  before the proceedings against him began.


Despite having been properly served notice of the claim against him, Scully did not respond to the court summons, nor attended the hearing set for Sept 23.

The judge was thus forced to hear the case in his absence, and render judgment in favor of complainant Jinna D. Licayo, who originally claimed $150,000 in damages for her injured feelings, $20,000 in punitive or exemplary damages, plus costs and interest.

But at Licayo’s request, the judge dispensed with two of the items set out in her claim due to the absence of the respondent. This pertained to an admission by the respondent that he committed the act complained of and promise not to repeat it; and issue a written apology.

She instead asked the court, through the EOC, to assess the amount of damages that is due her.

"For the above reasons, I enter judgment for the claimant against the respondent for damages to be assessed with costs up to and including this hearing, to be taxed if not agreed," said the judge.

The District Court decided on the case in the absence of the employer who has left HK

According to the claim, Scully hired Licayo as a stay-in domestic helper on Sept 12, 2017. Her primary duties included taking care of the couple and three children. 


The helper said that from October 2017 to January 2019, Scully had sexually harassed her continually by “making unwelcome sexual advances… and/or engaging in unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature in relation to her”, in the words of the judge.

She accused the employer of entering the bathroom naked while she was taking a shower, masturbating in front of her, walking around the house naked in her presence, and making unwelcome sexual requests and remarks.

The victim said Scully’s acts offended, humiliated or intimidated her, creating a sexually hostile and intimidating work environment for her.

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On Feb 25, 2019, Scully fired the helper. She filed a claim a month later at the Labour Department for outstanding wages and entitlements under her contract and the employer settled.

On Mar 29 that year, she lodged a sexual harassment complaint with the EOC against the employer. The EOC informed the respondent about the claim in a series of correspondence.

When the conciliation attempt fell through, the EOC told Scully in a letter dated May 3, 2021 that legal proceedings would be initiated against him if he did not respond to the last offer from Licayo within 14 days.

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Getting no further word from the respondent, the EOC filed the case with the District Court.

Backing up the claimant’s position that there was sufficient service of notice to Scully were affidavits from Mr Au-yeung and affirmations from Ms Lam, executive officer of the school, and Ms Wong Hoi-ting, legal counsel of the EOC. 

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