Rahman Mohammad Hasibur, a migrant worker from Bangladesh is suing his Singapore employer and a dormitory operator, accusing them of "False imprisonment" after he was locked in his room for 43 hours during the Covid-19 epidemic.
He said that their actions put him and his roommates at risk of contracting the virus. He filed a claim for damages of US$3,000, reports the AsiaNews.
Singapore has reported so far more than 58,000 coronavirus cases among low-paid migrants living in crowded dormitories, a situation that has sparked criticism of the wealthy city-state's treatment of its foreign workforce.
Rahman Mohammad Hasibur said that staff at the dormitory, run by Joylicious Management, locked him and up to 20 other workers in their room on 19 April after one of them was thought to have contracted the virus and was moved to a medical facility.
They could use the bathroom only by calling a guard to escort them. Some of the men were running fevers and the room was hot and poorly ventilated.
After Hasibur contacted TWC2, an NGO that supports migrants, the workers were moved to a new room with an attached bathroom, which was also locked from the outside. In total, they were confined for 43 hours.
"The plaintiff and his fellow migrant workers were robbed of their dignity and deprived of their fundamental human rights during the false imprisonment," Hasibur's claim reads.
Officials found that the dorm operator had confined the workers with the consent of their employer, V Spec Engineering & Supplies, and imposed a hiring freeze on the company.
Hasibur, who has since returned to Bangladesh, said the actions of his employer and the dorm operator put him and his roommates at risk of contracting the virus and caused them emotional distress.
"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," Hasibur said in a statement.
A Joylicious representative declined to comment, whilst V. Spec did not respond to emailed requests for comment.