The plaintiff, Ng Hoi Sze and defendant Yuen Sha Sha shared a college dorm room. Yuen Sha Sha discovered a video recorder that plaintiff’s boyfriend, Tse Chi Pan, placed in the room, which recorded Yuen Sha Sha while she was undressing. Ms. Sha Sha had Mr. Pan expelled from the University and the plaintiff was expelled from the dorm room. The plaintiff filed a nuisance claim against Ms. Sha Sha and her boyfriend, Fung Ka Fai, the other defendant, who was a student at another university. The plaintiff moved to amend the complaint to introduce a claim for sexual harassment under the Sex Discrimination Ordinance, Cap. 480. Specifically, the plaintiff alleged that there was unlawful sexual harassment in contravention of section 39(3) of the Sex Discrimination Ordinance, Cap. 480, by the defendants’ engaging in unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature in relation to the plaintiff and, consequently, the plaintiff suffered embarrassment, humiliation and shock. The plaintiff sought damages under section 76 of the Ordinance. The Ordinance stated that a person sexually harasses a woman if the person (i) makes an unwelcome sexual advance, or an unwelcome request for sexual favors to her, or (ii) engages in other unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature in relation to her in circumstances in which a reasonable person, having regard to all the circumstances, would have anticipated that she would be offended, humiliated or intimidated, or the person, alone or together with other persons, engages in conduct of a sexual nature that creates a sexually hostile or intimidating work environment for her. The question in this case was whether there were allegations that the defendants, or either of them, engaged in unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature in relation to the plaintiff. The first judge held that the plaintiff’s claim was facially deficient because she did not plead any sexual conduct that she found offensive. The second judge agreed with the first judge’s assertions. However, notably, the second judge stated that when a female student’s roommate engages, in their shared room, without the female student’s consent, in conduct of a sexual nature with another person, that conduct is capable of being considered sexual harassment of the female student. A reasonable person would have anticipated that the female student would be offended by such conduct. Thus, had the plaintiff simply properly pleaded what the sexually offensive conduct was, she would have stated a claim against the defendants for sexual harassment and would have been able to pursue a strong claim against the defendants.
Ng Hoi Sze v. Yuen Sha Sha
High Court of the Hong Kong Special Administrative Region Court of Appeal