Chinese welfare centre sexual harassment case settled

By Richard Morgan

  • Published
Jing-Yueh Huang-Porterfield
Image caption,
Mrs Huang-Porterfield was an administration worker at the welfare centre for 20 months

A woman who claimed she was subjected to sexual harassment at work has settled her case for £6,000, without any admission of liability.

Jing-Yueh Huang-Porterfield alleged that a manager at the Wah Hep Chinese Community Association in County Armagh, made sexually offensive remarks.

She said she contacted the Equality Commission after reading an article on the BBC News NI website.

Her former employer in Craigavon said it sincerely regretted any upset felt.

Mrs Huang-Porterfield, from Portadown in County Armagh, was an administration worker at the welfare centre between February 2015 and October 2016.

'Kind of rubbish'

She said she raised a grievance with her employer but became ill due to the stress of the situation and felt she had no option but to resign.

"The men would always joke around in a sexual way which made me uncomfortable and upset," she said.

"It started to get more and more serious so I decided to take action."

Her husband flagged up an online story about two sisters who settled sexual harassment claims against a fast food restaurant in Belfast.

The couple decided to contact the Equality Commission, which oversees the Northern Ireland's equality laws.

Image caption,
The Equality Commission said Mrs Huang-Porterfield felt "belittled and demeaned"

"Just because I am female doesn't mean I should go into work and be bullied," she said.

"We are trying as hard as anyone else to survive and make a difference.

"We don't need to take this kind of rubbish."

'Demeaned and diminished'

She added that she was happy with the outcome, particularly her former employers' agreement to work with the Equality Commission.

The Equality Commission, which helped bring the case, said it had "impacted on her dignity at work".

"The crucial thing for Jing was that these comments were unwanted - it was uninvited by her," said Anne McKernan, director of legal services at the Equality Commission.

"She felt that this effectively led to her feeling belittled, demeaned and diminished in the workplace."

The Wah Hep Chinese Community Association has said it will liaise with the commission to review its equal opportunities and sexual harassment policies and procedures.

It also affirmed its commitment to the principle of equality of opportunity in employment.

Mrs Huang-Porterfield said she was now moving on with her life and praised the commission for its assistance.

"It is great you can access these organisations for help and advice," she said.

"We moved from Taiwan and we did not move thousands of miles to be bullied, so that's why I thought I had to do something about it."