Migrant worker sues employer & dorm operator for locking him in room with other workers

They were confined against their will.

Syahindah Ishak | January 05, 2021, 04:21 PM

A migrant worker has sued his former employer and a dormitory operator for confining him and his roommates inside their dorm room.

Filed civil claim

Rahman Mohammad Hasibur said in a public statement on Jan. 5 that between Apr. 19 and Apr. 21 in 2020, he was locked in his dorm room with his roommates against their will.

Rahman stated that he has filed and served a civil claim against his former employer, V. Spec Engineering & Supplies, and the dormitory operator, Joylicious Management, for damages relating to the incident.

He added:

"I have been advised by my legal counsel that the facts disclose several private causes of action, including the tort of false imprisonment, and I am seeking damages for the distress suffered.

Should I succeed in my action, I hope that it will deter other employers and dormitory operators from similar actions towards their employees and residents in their care."

What happened

Transient Workers Count Too (TWC2), an NGO which focuses on migrant worker issues, first publicised the incident on Apr. 21, 2020 in a Facebook post.

The workers were allegedly locked into the room after a worker they had close contact with tested positive for Covid-19.

Those who wanted to go to the toilet or shower had to call security guards to unlock the door and the guards would take up to 30 minutes to attend to such requests.

TWC2's post also contained two photos of the situation in the locked room.

Dorm manager said he had no choice

The dorm manager told Today on Apr. 21, 2020 that it had been necessary to confine the workers while more suitable accommodations were being prepared.

In addition, there were two Bangladeshi workers among the group who requested to use the toilet every half hour.

However, the dormitory manager would have needed to ensure that the toilet was cleared of other dormitory occupants before allowing access by workers from this group, as they were close contacts of a confirmed Covid-19 case.

Thus, the manager told Today that he had no other choice but to lock the group of 20 in their room, as it was necessary for the safety of the other workers at the dormitory, where approximately 800 workers were living.

Relocated to another room

The workers were later moved to a more spacious room on Apr. 21 afternoon.

Another post by TWC2 purportedly showed a latch on the room door where the men had been relocated.

TWC2 subsequently uploaded another post saying that the police had arrived to open the door.

MOM issued stern warning

The Ministry of Manpower (MOM) had issued a stern warning to the dorm operator.

MOM's investigations had confirmed that the operator had confined the workers in their room on Apr. 20, to prevent them from moving around after a close contact of the workers was confirmed positive for Covid-19.

However, the workers had already been relocated by the time MOM officers arrived at the scene, and were no longer confined to their room.

According to MOM, the workers were relocated to a warehouse with an attached toilet.

More information about the case

Follow us on LinkedIn for more storiesMothership Linkedin

Top images from TWC2/FB.