A Bangladeshi migrant worker is suing his ex-employer and dormitory operator in Singapore, accusing them of "false imprisonment" after he was locked in his room during a coronavirus outbreak.
The majority of Singapore's more than 58,000 cases have been among low-paid migrants living in crowded dormitories, sparking criticism of the affluent city-state's treatment of its foreign workforce.
Construction worker Rahman Mohammad Hasibur filed a claim last week for Sg $215,000 ($163,000) in damages, according to documents submitted in court and seen by AFP.
Staff at his dormitory, run by Joylicious Management, had locked Hasibur and up to 20 other workers in their room on April 19, 2020, after one of their roommates was thought to have contracted the virus and was transferred to a medical facility.
During this time they were only able to use the toilet by calling a guard to come and escort them. Some of the men were running fevers and the room was hot and poorly ventilated, the documents said.
After Hasibur reached out to TWC2, a NGO that supports migrants, the workers were transferred to a new room with an attached toilet 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 says.
Officials found the dormitory operator had confined the workers with consent from their employer, V. Spec Engineering & Supplies, and imposed a hiring freeze on the company.
Hasibur, who has since returned to Bangladesh, alleged 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 representative at Joylicious declined to comment when contacted by AFP while V. Spec has not responded to emailed requests for comment.