A Hong Kong property management worker was fired after complaining to her employer about being sexually harassed at work.
Last year, Carmen (alias) attended a farewell party of a supervisor who was retiring. Little did she know that was the beginning of her worst nightmare.
At the party, she took a picture with the supervisor. The picture was later circulated on WhatsApp among employees at the property consultancy where Carmen worked. Soon rumours of Carmen having an affair with the retired supervisor began to spread and she received a warning from her manager for “inappropriate behaviour”.
After the conversation with the manager Carmen, who is in her 50s, said she initially had no idea the manager was warning her based on the “affair”. “I thought I was not performing up to standard at work,” she recalls.
The harassment got worse. Last June, a fax was sent to the housing authority headquarters, accusing Carmen of performing indecent acts at the public housing estate where she was working.
Carmen reported the case to the police, but was later fired from her job. Her employer explained the company was undergoing restructuring and she was let go.
Carmen has sought help from the The Equal Opportunities Commission. It has been more than year since she approached the equality watch dog for assistance, but so far she has received an underwhelming response.
In a phone interview with Human Resources magazine, Lam Ying Hing, organizing coordinator at Hong Kong Confederation of Trade Unions, who is assisting Carmen said the commission refused to look into the case because there is no suspect.
“The commission said Carmen was unable to provide details on who harassed her, so there is a low chance for it to develop into a case. They even asked her to provide statements from co-workers to assist the investigation, I think that is completely out of line,” she said.
Lam added that all evidence showed Carmen is a victim of sexual harassment and the union will continue to help her to pursue the case with the The Equal Opportunities Commission.
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