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Filipino domestic helper sues HK employer for forcing her to resign due to pregnancy

/ 04:24 PM September 02, 2018

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A 37-year-old Filipino domestic helper filed charges against her employer in Hong Kong for coercing her to resign after she got pregnant.

Pia Karen Sanchez is demanding 197,035 Hong Kong dollars (around P1.3 million) for injury to feelings, medical expenses and loss of income from June 1 to Oct. 20, as reported by South China Morning Post last Friday, Aug. 31.

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“The claimant felt betrayed and upset by the discriminatory and unfair treatment from the respondent,” the writ filed in District Court on the same day stated. “The claimant lost a job at which she was competent, and from which she was able to derive work satisfaction and a sense of fulfilment.”

Man Sui-lun, Sanchez’s lawyer as well as a legal counsel for the Equal Opportunities Commission noted that what Sanchez experienced in the hands of her employer equated to direct pregnancy discrimination. All working mothers in Hong Kong, regardless of nationality and job, are entitled to ten weeks paid maternity leave.

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Sanchez’s employer, Chan Hing-man, discovered Sanchez’s pregnancy on April 2, 2017, after she was hospitalized for seven days, the report said. She manifested miscarriage symptoms which lead to her admission to the hospital.

Chan called her “horrible” upon learning the news and accused Sanchez of scheming with her boyfriend to get pregnant. The employer also told Sanchez’s mother that Sanchez would have to pay a hospital fee of 50,000 Hong Kong dollars (about P340,000) to bring the child to the Philippines should she deliver the baby in Hong Kong.

Sanchez was steadfast in her resolve to continue with her job and her contract, the contract being due to end on Oct. 20, 2017, despite her pregnancy. Sanchez said that she had “no alternative but to resign” after being pressured by Chan.

She was given “a look of disapproval” by Chan’s husband when she refused to resign on April 19, the report stated. She later gave in to her employer’s pressure, formally leaving her work on May 31 after filming a video of herself saying she would be flying home to the Philippines on June 14.

But contrary to what she filmed, she did not leave Hong Kong on June 14 last year. She gave birth to her son at Pamela Youde Eastern Hospital in Hong Kong on Sept. 18. Court documents did not reveal what Sanchez did from June to the day of her delivery.

Sanchez said that the incident troubled her since she suddenly had no means to support her family in the Philippines as well as the baby she was then carrying.

Sanchez was not the first foreign domestic helper to experience pregnancy discrimination in Hong Kong. In May 2016, the publication also reported about an Indonesian domestic helper who sued her employer for firing her after learning she was pregnant. Kate Matriano/JB

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TAGS: domestic helper, Hong Kong, pregnancy, pregnancy discrimination, pregnant
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