Hong Kong’s Equal Opportunities Commission has given Cathay Pacific a discrimination warning after the airline fired crew who failed to get vaccinated against COVID-19.

In August 2021, Cathay Pacific announced that its employees have until October 1, 2021, to receive the COVID-19 vaccine or face being dismissed from work. In early September 2021, the airline decided to fire a “small number of aircrew” who chose not to receive the COVID-19 vaccination and did not provide proof of medical exemption.

Since then, the Equal Opportunities Commission has received a total of 129 inquiries and eight complaints in relation to discriminatory treatments brought about by COVID-19 vaccination statuses. 

"If certain staff members feel they were treated differently or being discriminated against - such as being let go - because they could not get jabbed for health-related reasons, they can file an inquiry or complaint to us," Ricky Chu Man-kin, Chairman of Equal Opportunities Commission said while speaking to a local radio station in Hong Kong.

Chu advised that if employees were unable to perform the basic duties of their job without valid medical proof, dismissal is not the only solution as there is still the option of transferring the staff to another department.

He also added that if staff were deemed to have a valid case, then mediation, or even legal action is possible.

A Cathay Pacific spokesperson told the South China Morning Post that the company understood several cases had already been filed and that air crew with medical reasons not to get vaccinated that had been assessed and considered by the airline’s company doctors were not terminated. 

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Employees and contractors of Cathay Pacific, the flag carrier of Hong Kong, have until October 1, 2021, to receive the COVID-19 vaccine.