A British-Australian has sued Leighton Contractors (Asia), accusing the company of racial discrimination that led to his sacking, the Hong Kong Economic Journal reports.
In a lawsuit filed with the District Court, Francis William Haden, a blasting specialist, said he had worked for Leighton since 2010 before he was fired last year.
He was assigned in August 2016 to be in charge of the blasting work for the construction of the Tseung Kwan O-Lam Tin tunnel, a project contracted to a joint venture set up by Leighton and China State Construction Engineering (Hong Kong) and expected to be completed in 2021.
He said he had been discriminated against and excluded by his co-workers ever since he took on the assignment, with some of them calling him “gweilo” in a derogatory sense. The word is Cantonese slang for “ghost man”, which is commonly used by locals to refer to westerners.
He said his former employer often arranged meetings on the days he was off and gave him no minutes afterwards, and that China State had expressed that it did not want non-Chinese involved in blasting works.
He also said China State sometimes asked his Chinese subordinate to perform certain tasks without going through him.
Haden said he told his superiors about how he was being treated, noting that he was being isolated because he did not understand Chinese, only to be sacked in February 2017.
Believing that he lost his job at Leighton because of racial discrimination, Haden filed a complaint with the Equal Opportunities Commission.
After completing an investigation in March this year, the commission advised both parties to engage in conciliation talks. However, Leighton refused to accept the suggestion.
Haden then decided to take his case to the District Court. He wants the court to order Leighton to pay him HK$200,000 in compensation for injury to his feelings plus an amount that is equivalent to what he should have been paid in total since the day he was fired.
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