Hong Kong domestic worker fired for cancer awarded damages

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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 30,000 HKD in damages. (AFP)
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Baby Jane Allas (C), a 38-year-old mother of five Filipina domestic worker who was sacked after she was diagnosed with cervical cancer, reacts as she stands with family members and supporters after a hearing at the Labour Tribunal in Hong Kong on April 15, 2019, which ordered her former employer to pay a settlement of 30,000 HKD in damages. (AFP)
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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 30,000 HKD in damages. (AFP)
Updated 16 April 2019

Hong Kong domestic worker fired for cancer awarded damages

  • Nearly 370,000 domestic helpers work in the city. Most are poor women from the Philippines and Indonesia performing menial tasks for low wages while living in often miserable conditions

HONG KONG: A domestic worker sacked after a cancer diagnosis was awarded damages by a Hong Kong court Monday, in a case that highlighted exploitation of foreign women toiling as maids in the wealthy financial hub.
Baby Jane Allas of the Philippines was diagnosed with stage three cervical cancer in January and fired the following month by her employer, who cited the illness as the reason for termination.
The 38-year-old single mother of five instantly lost the right to health care and has had to regularly apply for visa extensions as she navigated Hong Kong’s legal and immigration systems while battling cancer.
She has been undergoing radiation therapy five days a week, along with chemotherapy one day a week.
Allas and her former employer — who was absent from Monday’s proceedings — reached a settlement of HK30,000 ($3,800) at Hong Kong’s labor tribunal for sickness allowance, medical fees and wages in lieu of notice.
“I am standing here right now to encourage more workers to come out if they have these kinds of cases,” Allas said outside the hearing.
Allas added she hoped to find another employer “who can really understand my situation and treat me well.”
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.
Allas previously told AFP that she spent just over a year working for a family of Pakistani origin who ordered her to work every day of the week.
She has also said she was routinely given stale leftovers to eat and slept on a thin comforter in a cluttered store room.
Nearly 370,000 domestic helpers work in the city. Most are poor women from the Philippines and Indonesia performing menial tasks for low wages while living in often miserable conditions.
Allas was accompanied to Monday’s hearing by supporters and family, including her eight-year-old daughter, who clung to her waist.
Her plight has generated widespread sympathy in Hong Kong and a fundraising campaign organized by her sister’s employer, Jessica Cutrera, has so far raised more than HK$900,000 for treatment.
A large part of Allas’ medical bills have been covered by hospital charities but expensive surgery will likely be needed to operate on her tumors, said Cutrera.


FBI: Saudi shooter believed to have acted alone in US Navy base attack

Updated 09 December 2019

FBI: Saudi shooter believed to have acted alone in US Navy base attack

  • Special agent Rachel Rojas thanked Saudi Arabia for its cooperation in the investigation
  • Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani was shot dead after he opened fire and killed three people at the base in Florida

PENSACOLA: Investigators believe a Saudi Air Force lieutenant acted alone on Friday when he killed three people and wounded eight at a US Navy base in Pensacola, Florida before being fatally shot by police, the FBI said on Sunday.
Rachel Rojas, special agent in charge of the FBI’s Jacksonville office, said the shooter used a Glock model 45 9mm handgun that he had purchased legally in Florida.
“We currently assess there was one gunman who perpetrated this attack and no arrests have been made in this case,” Rojas, the lead investigator on the case, said at a news conference.
“We are looking very hard at uncovering his motive and I would ask for patience so we can get this right,” she said.
Authorities confirmed the suspect was a member of the Royal Saudi Air Force who was on the base as part of a US Navy training program designed to foster links with foreign allies.
The FBI identified him as Second Lt. Mohammed Saeed Alshamrani, 21.
A sheriff’s deputy fatally shot the gunman, authorities said, ending the second deadly attack at a US military base within a week. Within hours, Saudi Arabia’s King Salman had called US President Donald Trump to extend his condolences and pledge the Kingdom’s support in the investigation.
Rojas said there were several Saudi students who were close to the shooter and are cooperating with investigators.
“Their Saudi commanding officer has restricted them to base, and the Saudi government has pledged to fully cooperate with our investigation,” she said. “I thank the kingdom for their pledge of full and complete cooperation.”

Meanwhile, a second victim was identified as Airman Mohammed Sameh Haitham, 19, of St. Petersburg, Florida, who joined the Navy after graduating from high school last year, according to the Tampa Bay Times.
Haitham's mother, Evelyn Brady, herself a Navy veteran, said the commander of her son's school called her and told her Haitham had tried to stop the shooter.