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Thursday, Feb 29, 2024

Man fired before first day of work over Covid infection sues company for HK$70,000

Man fired before first day of work over Covid infection sues company for HK$70,000

A man is suing a financial company for HK$70,000 and is asking for a written apology, as it retracted his employment offer after he contracted Covid before his first day of work in 2020.
In the SAR's first anti-Covid-discrimination lawsuit through the Equal Opportunities Commission, Jasper Siu Chi-yoi is asking MEX Fintech for HK$50,000 compensation for "injury to feelings" and HK$20,000 for loss of income.

According to a writ filed to the District Court on Thursday, Siu in July 2020 applied for the position of “business development manager” at Mex. He was on August 4 offered the job with a monthly salary of HK$20,000. Both sides eventually agreed to set the date of commencement to be September 1.

But on August 12, Siu was diagnosed with Covid and admitted to North Lantau Hospital with a mild headache and temporary loss of taste and smell.

On August 25, he called Mex's human resources officer, surnamed Sze, to inform her about his infection and said that he might have to postpone his first day of work because he did not know when he would be discharged.

He was subsequently allowed to go home on August 29 so on the next business day, August 31, Siu called Sze to inform her about his discharge and said he was ready to work the next day as scheduled.

Sze asked Siu to send her the medical proof and Siu complied.

Later that day, Sze emailed Siu and said the offer “no longer existed anymore as the headcount of Business Development Manager has been filled.”

Siu on September 2 lodged a disability discrimination complaint against Mex to the commission, which agreed that the company unlawfully discriminated Siu.

“The Claimant (Siu) was highly offended and humiliated by the Respondent's (Mex) unlawful dismissal immediately following his recovering from Covid,” the writ said.

It wrote that the dismissal exacerbated the stress and anxiety Siu already suffered from because of his infection, “given the general social stigma attached to Covid patients at the material time.”

Although Siu secured a new employment in October 2020, he suffered a HK$20,000, as he should have already been employed.

In a press statement about the case, the commission said the lawsuit was made under the Disability Discrimination Ordinance. “Under the ordinance, it is unlawful for an employer to refuse or deliberately omit to offer and employment position on the ground of a person's disability, including previously existed disability,” it said.

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