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25 Jan 2021

Jeffie Lam, South China Morning Post (Hong Kong)

Hong Kong: Deliveroo deactivates customer's account over request for non-South Asian riders

"Coronavirus: Hong Kong anti-racism watchdog speaks out against Deliveroo, Foodpanda customer requests for non-South Asian delivery drivers" 22 January 2021

Hong Kong’s anti-racism watchdog has spoken out against customers requesting that their takeaway food not be delivered by South Asian drivers during the coronavirus pandemic, but will take no action since such conduct is not illegal.

Deliveroo on Friday confirmed that a customer’s account had been deactivated over “inappropriate and wholly unacceptable delivery notes”, while rival company Foodpanda was investigating allegations of similar racist messages on its app.

“We believe in mutual respect between customers and riders; abusive behaviour is unacceptable,” Deliveroo said in a statement. “There is no place in our society for this deeply offensive behaviour.”

The Equal Opportunities Commission issued a statement saying while it was not illegal for customers to reject service providers of a specific ethnicity under the Race Discrimination Ordinance, such conduct was “undesirable if the customers did it in the absence of reasonable grounds”.

The watchdog reminded the public that it would be unfair to demonise an entire community based on some members being caught up in a Covid-19 outbreak, and the ordinance had clauses protecting service providers from racial harassment.

“We should be reminded that those infected are only a minority and it would be wrong and even dangerously misleading to generalise,” a spokesman added. [...]