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A woman has filed Hong Kong’s first SARS discrimination lawsuit alleging she was dismissed from her job because her mother contracted the disease, an equal rights official said Saturday. Kwok Yeuk-ching began proceedings Friday to seek damages from her former employer, Hip Wall Industries Ltd., and Mac Thuong Can, a director and shareholder of the company, a court document showed. The Equal Opportunities Commission filed the suit on Kwok’s behalf, commission spokesman Sam Ho said. It is the first case filed in a Hong Kong court alleging discrimination against severe acute respiratory syndrome patients or their relatives, Ho said. Last year a SARS outbreak in Hong Kong infected 1,755 people, of whom 299 died. The court document states that Kwok had worked as a clerk at the company for 20 months when on May 12, 2003, a hospital confirmed her mother — a health care worker — had contracted SARS. The same day, Kwok informed her employer that she had to be quarantined at home — a standard procedure to prevent the virus from spreading. The following day, Kwok received a call from the director who allegedly told her she was “selfish” for not immediately notifying the company that her mother was sick. About a week later, Hip Wall Industries dismissed Kwok, according to the court document. The dismissal letter gave no reason for termination of Kwok’s contract, but a colleague at the company’s personnel department allegedly told Kwok that she was sacked because she had been slow to inform her employer of her mother’s illness. The company allegedly refused to pay any termination payment to Kwok, who did not contract the disease. Kwok is now seeking compensation for her income loss and injury to her feelings, and wants an apology from the company. Copyright 2004 Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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