Labour Tribunal officer to employer: ‘You’re telling lies’

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The Labour Tribunal in Yau Ma Tei

 

A Labour Tribunal presiding officer grilled the businessman whose wife allegedly forced a Filipino domestic helper (FDH) to clean the window of their 19th-floor flat in Repulse Bay.

Labour Tribunal presiding officer David Chum on June 21 peppered K.T. Ip with questions after he claimed that helper Nerie R. Mier had resigned and was not sacked from her job.

“You’re telling lies in court,” Mr. Chum told the employer.

The officer noted that Ip claimed that it was the Filipina who resigned but he then paid her $2,465, apparently in partial payment of “salary in lieu of notice.”

“If she resigned, why pay in lieu of notice? If she resigned, she should be the one to give (payment) in lieu of notice,” Mr. Chum said.

The employer claimed that Mier resigned on Feb. 15 but because he did not want her to stay any longer at their flat, he gave her $2,465 for her to leave.

The presiding officer was not convinced. He noted that Mier’s alleged resignation letter that Ip submitted to the court did not bear her signature or that of the employer.

“It did not have any signature on it. This document is totally useless,” Mr. Chum said.

The employer countered that it was Mier who made the alleged resignation letter and even wrote down her name in the body of the letter. He said the Mier’s name could be treated as her signature.

“But there’s no signature! The (space) for the signature was left blank!” Mr. Chum said, slamming his hand on the table.

“If no signature, that means no agreement,” he added.

He said while Ip had submitted a notification to the Immigration Department that Mier’s employment had been terminated, the notice did not say if the Filipino resigned or was fired.

“You have no evidence she resigned,” the magistrate said.

Mier is claiming at least $10,500 in compensation against Mr. Ip after she was allegedly fired after a video of her cleaning the window of their flat from the outside went viral online. This amount includes wages in lieu of notice, rest day pay, meal allowance, and food and travel allowance.

Mr. Ip claimed that he and his wife were the “victims” of Mier.

“I don’t think she has a case against me. I feel I was already cheated by her,” the employer said.

Mier’s case drew the attention of the Philippine Overseas Labor office (POLO) after she complained that she was “forced” to clean the window of their 19th-floor flat from the outside, a violation of their contract.

Hong Kong in 2017 banned the practice of foreign domestic workers cleaning the windows of high-rise apartments from the outside.

“So, this is implementation. This the test case and the first case (since the ban),” said Assistant Labor Attache Antonio R. Villafuerte.

He added that the POLO had also put on its watchlist Mier’s employer so that they can no longer hire another Filipino domestic worker.

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