A Filipina domestic worker in Hong Kong was diagnosed with stage 3 cervical cancer in January.
And after hearing the news, her employers promptly fired her, leaving single mother Baby Jane Allas with no medical coverage that she normally would receive under Hong Kong law. On top of that, she was ordered to leave Hong Kong within two weeks.
Incredibly, her termination letter reads “Reason(s) for termination (if any): Diagnosed with cervical cancer.” Allas’ firing was likely illegal and she plans to launch a challenge.
“I want to finish my contract… because I have five children, only me, I am (a) single mother,” said Allas through tears.
Allas spent just over a year working for a family of Pakistani origin who ordered her to perform tasks even on her one day off each week.
She was routinely given stale leftovers to eat and slept on a thin comforter in a cluttered store room, she added.
“My neighbor… gave me noodles, she is very nice to me, she said, oh what happened to your body, you are so delicate now, only one year you lost your weight,” Allas recalled.
AFP reached out to her employer for comment but she did not respond to phone calls and messages.
In contrast Allas’ sister Mary Ann was more fortunate.
She landed a job with an American, Jessica Cutrera, who has since taken Allas in, helping her to fight her case and starting an online fundraising campaign to pay her medical bills which has so far raised some $43,000.
On the fundraising site, Cutrera explains that her family would “happily employ her ourselves but she cannot be hired under a new contract with an active advanced cancer diagnosis.”
“We have obtained support to pursue an extended visa while she fights her claim, but this visa will not allow her to access government paid care.”
Allas has already filed a complaint with the labor department and the Equal Opportunities Commission, which commented “There remains prevalent discrimination against employees who have to take leave for their disabilities or to undergo medical treatments.”
Under Hong Kong law, employers must cover their foreign domestic worker’s medical expenses and are advised to take out insurance.