Six nurses at a Hong Kong private hospital have accused a member of senior nursing staff of sexual harassment, prompting an internal investigation.

CUHK Medical Centre, private hospital
CUHK Medical Centre. Photo: 水浪/Google Maps.

HK01 reported on Monday that some female nurses in the intensive care unit (ICU) of at the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) Medical Centre had accused a male nurse, who was their superior in the unit, of sexual harassment. The hospital has confirmed the incident.

The alleged harassment involved verbal and physical acts, with at least six nurses filing complaints to the hospital.

Citing sources, the local media outlet reported that some nurses accused the hospital of not taking the matter seriously as it did not demote the nurse, instead transferring him to another department.

The hospital told local media outlets on Monday evening that it had received reports from nurses and conducted an internal investigation into the incident. It said that the hospital had taken disciplinary action against the accused, including issuing a warning letter and moving him out of the department.

CUHK Medical Centre, private hospital
CUHK Medical Centre. Photo: Wai Ki Wong/Google Maps.

The hospital added that it had not found sufficient evidence showing that the incident could constitute criminal offences, and therefore it did not report the case to the police. But the hospital said it did not prevent the staff involved from filing police reports.

Sexual harassment

According to the Sex Discrimination Ordinance, making an unwelcome sexual advance or an unwelcome request for sexual favours to a person, or engaging in other unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature, might constitute sexual harassment at workplace and educational institutions.

Equal Opportunities Commission EOC
Equal Opportunities Commission. Photo: Kelly Ho/HKFP.

The ordinance, which is overseen by the Equal Opportunities Commission (EOC), stipulates that sexual harassment is an unlawful act that falls under civil jurisdiction. However, sexual harassment might constitute a criminal offence if it involves behaviour such as indecent assault and voyeurism.

According to the EOC, apart from reporting the case to employer, victims of alleged sexual harassment can also file complaints to the EOC within one year of the incident taking place or file a lawsuit in District Court within two years of it taking place.

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Irene Chan is a reporter at Hong Kong Free Press and has an interest in covering political and social change. She previously worked at Initium Media as chief editor for Hong Kong news and was a community organiser at the Society for Community Organisation serving the underprivileged. She has a bachelor’s degree in Journalism from Fudan University and a master’s degree in social work from the Chinese University of Hong Kong.

Irene is the recipient of two Society of Publishers in Asia (SOPA) awards and three honourable mentions for her investigative, feature and video reporting. She also received a Human Rights Press Award for multimedia reporting and an honourable mention for feature writing.