A Filipina domestic worker who was fired for having cancer was awarded HK$30,000 in compensation from her former employer at a Labour Tribunal hearing on Monday morning.

Baby Jane Allas, 38, was abruptly dismissed in February while on sick leave for stage three cervical cancer. Her former employer cited her diagnosis as the reason for termination. The single mother of five began treatment for the aggressive adenocarcinoma last month, which involves radiotherapy five times a week and chemotherapy once a week. Her tumour has since shrunk, she previously told HKFP.

Allas is currently being housed by American Jessica Cutrera, who started an online fundraising campaign to pay for the helper’s medical expenses. The campaign surpassed its initial target of HK$400,000 last month and, as of Monday morning, stood at HK$834,605.

Baby Jane Allas
Baby Jane Allas, a 38-year-old mother of five Filipina domestic worker who was sacked after she was diagnosed with cervical cancer, reacts after a hearing at the Labour Tribunal in Hong Kong on April 15, 2019, which ordered her former employer to pay a settlement of HK$30,000 in damages. Photo: Anthony Wallace/AFP.

According to court documents seen by HKFP, Allas originally sought HK$84,061.29 from her former employer in her claim, which covered:

  • Wrongful dismissal;
  • Failure to pay wages;
  • Failure to provide statutory rest days;
  • Failure to pay sickness allowance;
  • Failure to pay medical expenses;
  • Failure to grant annual leave;
  • Failure to provide return passive to her home country;
  • Failure to pay food and travel allowance for returning back to her home country.

Her former employer, who was not present during the hearing, reached a settlement of HK$30,000 at the tribunal for sickness allowance, medical fees and wages in lieu of notice.

She has separately filed claims with the Equal Opportunities Commission for wrongful termination and loss of earnings, which could be brought to the city’s District Court.

Baby Jane Allas
Baby Jane Allas (centre) with supporters before the Labour Tribunal hearing on April 15. Photo: Nicole Izsak.

In order to attend the hearing, Allas had to postpone her radiotherapy treatment, a supporter told HKFP.

Despite the settlement, Cutrera told HKFP Allas and her supporters felt the result of the hearing fell short of justice: “Baby Jane is quite upset and how things went and how she was treated. It was very disappointing,” she said. “Just one more way in which the system fails women like her.”

Allas was accompanied to Monday’s hearing by supporters and family, including her eight-year-old daughter, who clung to her waist. Her daughter arrived in Hong Kong on Saturday after securing her passport with the help of the Philippine consulate.

There were 369,651 foreign domestic workers living in Hong Kong at the end of 2017, with the number set to rise to 600,000 by 2047, according to the government. Most of them hail from the Philippines and Indonesia.

Additional reporting: AFP.

The Hong Kong Free Press #PressForFreedom 2019 Funding Drive seeks to raise HK$1.2m to support our non-profit newsroom and dedicated team of multi-media, multi-lingual reporters.HKFP is backed by readers, run by journalists and is immune to political and commercial pressure. This year’s critical fundraiser will provide us with the essential funds to continue our work into next year.

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jennifer creery

Jennifer Creery

Jennifer Creery is a Hong Kong-born British journalist, interested in minority rights and urban planning. She holds a BA in English at King's College London and has studied Mandarin at National Taiwan University.