Women and Justice: Court: District Court

Domestic Case Law

L. v. Burton District Court (2010)

Employment discrimination, Sexual harassment

The plaintiff sued a senior manager at the company she worked for, alleging repeated sexual harassment. The harassment, which included many unwanted sexual advances toward the plaintiff, started with the plaintiff’s initial interview and continued until her eventual firing by the defendant. The court found that the defendant’s acts were a violation of the Sex Discrimination Ordinance. The court awarded the plaintiff damages to cover emotional distress as well as lost earnings.



Lam Wing Lai v. Y t Cheng (Chingtai) Ltd. District Court (2005)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination

Plaintiff worked as a secretary for the defendant. The plaintiff was experienced and had a history of good performance reviews. However, her relationship with the defendant deteriorated after she became pregnant. The plaintiff shared her pregnancy news with human resource and one colleague only, but then more colleagues learned about her pregnancy.  According to the plaintiff, colleagues threatened to force her to have an abortion and suggested that she take only a four-week  maternity leave despite her preference for an eight-week maternity leave. Plaintiff later learned that the defendant had hired a permanent replacement for her during her maternity leave. Subsequently, the plaintiff was fired. The court found that the plaintiff had showed that, on a balance of probabilities, she had been discriminated against by the defendant on the basis of her pregnancy.



Chan Choi Yin v. Toppan Forms (Hong Kong) Ltd. District Court (2006)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination

The plaintiff was the defendant’s employee. The plaintiff alleged that the defendant’s management began treating her poorly after her pregnancy, culminating in her eventual dismissal. The plaintiff claimed that the defendant’s actions were prohibited by the Sex Discrimination Ordinance. The court found that management had, among other things, had made derogatory remarks to the plaintiff, reduced her income, compelled her to transfer teams, and failed to investigate her internal complaints about her treatment. The court further found that the plaintiff had showed that, on a balance of probabilities, she had been discriminated against by the defendant’s management on the basis of her pregnancy.



Wong Lai Wan Avril v. Prudential Assurance Co Ltd District Court (2009)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination

The plaintiff was an employee of the defendant along with her husband, who was her direct supervisor. The defendant fired the plaintiff’s husband. Subsequently, the defendant informed the plaintiff that because of her marital relationship with her husband, she would have to be fired too, despite the lack of any wrongdoing on her part. The defendant moved to dismiss the claim, but the Court refused to, finding that there were credible allegations of violations of the Family Status Discrimination Ordinance and the Sex Discrimination Ordinance.



Lau Hoi Man Kathy v. Emaster Consultants Ltd, District Court (2014)

Employment discrimination, Gender discrimination

The defendant was an employment consultancy company that worked on behalf of various Hong Kong government agencies. The plaintiff was an employee of the defendant, who worked under a one-year contract. The plaintiff’s contract was renewed, with a start-date immediately following the end-date of the original contract. The plaintiff subsequently informed the defendant that she was pregnant. The defendant rescinded the renewal of the contract, on the grounds that the plaintiff had been dishonest in informing the employer of her pregnancy. The plaintiff filed a complaint with the Equal Opportunities Commission, claiming that the defendant had violated the Sex Discrimination Ordinance. To resolve the complaint, the defendant proposed a new contract, which the plaintiff accepted. The plaintiff later applied for maternity leave, but was denied by the defendant, who informed her that she did not satisfy the requirement of continuous employment prior to the request (due to a one-day gap between the original contract’s end-date and the new contract’s start-date). The court found that the defendant’s imposition of a one-day gap was a discriminatory act that was prohibited by Sections 8 and 11 of the Sex Discrimination Ordinance.



International Case Law

Slovak Republic, District Court, File No. 17C/65/2009 District Court (2009)

Sexual harassment, Sexual violence and rape

Ms V.Š. (the claimant) was sexually assaulted by her colleague, Mr. S.B. (the defendant) at work.  The criminal court found the defendant guilty of sexual violence by means of an agreement on crime and punishment.  The claimant sued the defendant for damages sustained as a result of the defendant’s actions.  The claimant supported her claims with the opinion of a psychological expert, who stated that the claimant had suffered damage to her dignity, honor and personal and intimate life, as well as material costs.  The amount of non-pecuniary damage awards is determined with regard to the facts of each case individually and the opinion of the court.  As a result of the sexual assault, the claimant was traumatized, depressed and afraid to go to work because of the obvious threat posed by the defendant. The district court held that the protection of privacy and other aspects of the personal life of each individual is paramount.  Every individual has the right to make decisions about his/her intimate and sexual life and in this case, such right was grossly violated.  Furthermore, under Section 11 of the Civil Code, the claimant has the right to protect her life, health, honor, dignity, privacy, name and expressions of personal value.  The district court held that the defendant was obliged to pay to the claimant non-pecuniary damages in the amount of EUR 3,319.