I. Introduction to the existing anti-discrimination ordinances in Hong Kong
Before introducing Hong Kong's existing anti-discrimination ordinances, it will be helpful for you to have a general idea of what is considered to constitute discrimination in Hong Kong.
"Direct discrimination" occurs when a person is treated less favorably than another person of the opposite sex, with a different marital status, who is not pregnant, who does not have to take care of his/her child, or who does not suffer mental/physical disability, or of different race.
In order to prove discrimination, there must be a comparison of treatment. For example, discrimination may occur if you are rejected for a job because the employer wants to appoint a person of the opposite sex (with similar working experience and educational background). Another example of direct discrimination is that you are single and pregnant but your employer says that maternity benefits only available to those employees who are legally married.
"Indirect discrimination" occurs when a condition or requirement, which is not justifiable, is applied to everyone, but in practice it adversely affects persons of a particular sex or marital status, those who have to take care of their children, those who are pregnant, or those who have mental/physical disabilities, or those on the basis of his/her race. Example: You are not able to work overtime because you are pregnant. Your employer penalizes you for not working overtime, but your employer cannot prove that the overtime requirement is necessary for all employees.
A person (or company) who directly or indirectly discriminates against another person may incur legal liabilities.
The above section briefly introduces the various types of discriminatory conduct that are regulated under the existing anti-discrimination ordinances in Hong Kong. This section also explains the general meanings of "direct discrimination" and "indirect discrimination", and the functions of the Equal Opportunities Commission.