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III. Disability Discrimination

Referring to section 2(1) of the Disability Discrimination Ordinance ("DDO"), a disability means:

  • total or partial loss of the person's bodily or mental functions;
  • total or partial loss of a part of the person's body;
  • the presence in the body of organisms causing disease or illness (such as HIV/AIDS);
  • the presence in the body of organisms capable of causing disease or illness;
  • the malfunction, malformation or disfigurement of a part of the person's body;
  • a disorder or malfunction that results in the person learning differently from a person without the disorder or malfunction (e.g. learning difficulties); or
  • a disorder, illness or disease that affects a person's thought processes, perception of reality, emotions or judgment or that results in disturbed behaviour.

A disability includes not only a disability that presently exists, but also a disability which previously existed but no longer exists, or which may exist in the future or which is imputed to a person.

The DDO protects any person with the above disabilities against discrimination, harassment or vilification (see question 1) in the areas of:

  • employment (including partnerships, trade union memberships, vocational training, etc.);
  • education;
  • access to premises (property that can be accessed by the public);
  • disposal and management of premises (including private property);
  • provision of goods, services and facilities;
  • clubs and sporting activities;
  • Government activities;
  • practising as barristers (any offer of pupillage and training provided to barristers).

This protection also extends to the associates (such as spouses or parents) of the disabled persons. In other words, even if you are not a person with a disability, you are still protected under the law if:

  • you are associated with another person with a disability, and you are discriminated against because of your association with the disabled person (an associate includes a spouse, another person living with a person with a disability, a relative, a care taker, or a business/sporting/recreational partner);
  • you are imputed to have a disability (being considered as having a disability) and you are discriminated against because of this;
  • it is believed that you may have a disability in the future, and you are discriminated against because of this.

    General matters

  1. What is the general meaning of discrimination, harassment and vilification in relation to a person's disability?
  2. Under what circumstances can an employer refuse to employ or dismiss a person with a disability? Suppose I have a serious leg injury, does it mean that I have no chance to take up a job?
  3. If an employee has an infectious disease or AIDS, can the employer dismiss that person?
  4. What if I receive even worse treatment after I have lodged a complaint? If my friend is being discriminated against because he/she acts as a witness for me, can my friend also lodge a complaint?
  5. If my relative or friend is a disabled person and is being discriminated against by others, can I represent him/her to lodge a complaint with the Equal Opportunities Commission?
  6. If I'm looking for a job, can an employer require me to provide medical information/records?

    Physical Disability

  8. If a physically disabled person can handle a particular job with some special facilities/aids, is the employer required to make the relevant adjustments/alterations at the workplace, or could the employer just refuse to employ (or dismiss) that person?
  9. I am a physically disabled person and I always have difficulty in taking a taxi. Should the taxi driver help me on every occasion? What if the driver refuses to offer taxi services to me?
  10. I am a wheelchair user. Do I have equal opportunities in respect of access to public buildings and social facilities?
  11. Toilets for people with disabilities are sometimes used as store rooms. Is this unlawful under the Disability Discrimination Ordinance?

    Mentally Handicapped

  13. My child is mentally handicapped and I have applied for a place for him at a mainstream kindergarten.. The kindergarten eventually rejected me. Has the kindergarten contravened the Disability Discrimination Ordinance? If my child is admitted, does the kindergarten have a responsibility to provide special services or facilities to help him with his studies?
  14. If my colleagues openly tease a mentally handicapped colleague about his/her mental handicap and he/she is unhappy about it, is this discrimination?
  15. I want to rent a flat. The landlord and I have already agreed to all the terms and conditions. However, after learning that I am going to live with a relative who is mentally handicapped, the landlord refused to rent the flat to me. Has the landlord contravened the Disability Discrimination Ordinance?

    Mental Illness/Ex-mental Illness

  17. Can an employer refuse to employ me, give me less favourable employment terms, or dismiss me on the basis of my mental illness?
  18. Can a person or company refuse to provide goods, services or facilities to me due to my mental illness?

    Hearing or Visual Impairment

  20. Can a person with a hearing impairment use a hearing aid when attending a recruitment interview?
  21. Can an employer refuse to employ me on the basis of my visual impairment because the workplace is considered to be of high risk?

    Chronic (persistent) illness

  23. Am I protected under the Disability Discrimination Ordinance if I have a chronic illness? What are some examples of chronic illness?
  24. Can an employer dismiss me on the basis of my chronic illness or because I need to have regular medical treatment?


  26. Am I protected under the Disability Discrimination Ordinance if I am infected with HIV/AIDS? If I turn up for help at any hospital or clinic, can it refuse to treat me?
  27. If I am looking for a job, can the employer require me to take an HIV test?