Sons of schizophrenics claim job discrimination

PUBLISHED : Friday, 07 May, 1999, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 07 May, 1999, 12:00am

The Fire Services Department turned down two qualified job applicants in separate cases because parents of the men suffered from mental illness, two District Court writs allege.

It had been imputed that the two men were also mentally ill and they had been 'unlawfully discriminated against' on those grounds, the writs claim.

In one case, a qualified ambulance officer whose mother suffered from schizophrenia was rejected for a job on the grounds of 'public safety', according to the writ lodged yesterday.

The Tseung Kwan O man had passed all the Fire Services Department recruitment procedures for an ambulance officer, including a physical check in November 1997 and an interview in December.

Then in February, he attended the Government Medical Examination Board.

The board stated in its report to the department that the man's mother suffered from schizophrenia.

On March 25, the plaintiff was sent a rejection letter which did not give any reason for his non-appointment.

The man lodged a complaint with the Equal Opportunities Commission, claiming he was turned down because of his mother's disability.

When the commission asked for an explanation, the Fires Services Department replied it had not employed the plaintiff 'for reasons of public safety'.

In the second case, a Lam Tin man applied for a job as a fireman in August 1996. After a medical examination, the Fire Services Department discovered the applicant's dead father had been schizophrenic and rejected his application.

The man complained to the Equal Opportunities Commission, which received a response from the department saying the man was not employed 'for reasons of public safety'.

Both men are seeking damages for loss of earnings and injury to feelings.