Human Resources



Pregnant employee claims unfair dismissal by Netflix

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Famous for its streaming of iconic movies, Netflix has become embroiled in a drama of its very own.

Former employee Tania Zarak says she was fired due to her pregnancy, but the American media-services provider denies the claim.

Zarak was employed developing original content for Netflix from mid-2018 until her boss, Francisco Ramos, issued her termination in December, 2018. Zarak claims the termination was due to her pregnancy – illegal under US law.

According to her lawsuit, she says that after she revealed her pregnancy to her boss – also pointing out that she was fatigued and suffered from morning sickness – Ramos cut back her role, excluded her from communications and meetings, and allegedly mocked her appearance.

When Zarak complained to the human resources department, she was advised to go back to discuss the situation with her boss. Zarak claims she requested a transfer to another department, which Ramos denied. She was subsequently fired.

As is the case in the US, it is also illegal in Hong Kong to fire a pregnant employee.

According to the health resource website Healthy Matters: “If a pregnant (Hong Kong) employee is working under a continuous contract, their employer is prohibited from terminating their employment once they have been notified of the pregnancy.”

Even if the employer is not aware of the employee’s pregnancy when they are terminated, the employee can still inform them of their pregnancy even after being let go. Under these circumstances, the employer must withdraw the termination or notice of termination.

“It’s a criminal offence for employers to fire a pregnant employee (other than for exceptional reasons such as serious misconduct) and they may be liable to pay a fine of up to HK$100,000,” the website added.

If a pregnant employee is wrongly terminated, and if found to be in the right, they may obtain compensation of up to HK$150,000.

In addition, under Hong Kong’s Sex Discrimination Ordinance, Cap 480, an employer cannot discriminate against an employee on the grounds that they are pregnant by treating them less favourably than someone who is not pregnant.

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