Hong Kong’s EOC has been ordered to pay HK$867,000 to a former employee, Josiah Chok Kin-ming, who it fired last year while he was working on a athree-month consultation to seek public opinion on offering legal protection to the rights of same-sex couples.
Last year it was revealed that while Chok was working in the role of the organisation’s chief equal opportunities officer he was also encouraging churchgoers to lobby the commission against proposals on on extending discrimination protections to same-sex couples.
When this news emerged, besides telling Chok that it would not renew his contract, the EOC also said that it was witholding a gratuity payment to him due to breach of contract.
Cook the sued for the gratuity payment through the Labour Tribunal. On Monday, the Tribunal ruled that the EOC must pay Chok the gratuity HK$867,000 (US$112,000), plus HK$916 ($118/€109) in hearing fees.
The judge ruled that Chok had visited in the church in his free time and that his freedom of speech was protected. It also noted that the gratuity was offered after three-years of service and was not performance related.
An EOC spokesperson said in a statement, ‘The former employee concerned has breached the EOC’s code of conduct and his acts have seriously conflicted with the EOC’s legitimate business interests and have affected its credibility.
‘The decision of not granting gratuity to this employee was only made after he refused to apologize for his wrongdoings.
The Labour Tribunal decision was also criticized by global LGBT business advocacy organization Out Leadership. ‘We’re disappointed at the Labour Tribunal’s decision,’ said Todd Sears, Principal of Out Leadership told Gay Star News.