Preventing Sexual Discrimination in Chinese Employment Law

Although China has established laws to ensure fair treatment and equality in the workplace for all its citizens, the country is still some way from achieving employment laws that match the western world’s treatment of employees.

Discrimination in employment is not a new occurrence in The People’s Republic of China, but as the country continues its recent progression of economic and social reforms, the Chinese government has increased its desire to end the sexually discriminatory employment policies that exist throughout the country. This includes upholding laws that forbid jobs to be advertised with gender specific requirements, like those that state applicants should be “male only” or “male preferred”.

A recent example of legal action against the unfairness of China’s labour and employment laws occurred in Beijing, where the private training institute Juren School was sued by a young female job-seeker named Cao Ju, who asserted that her application for the position of ‘administrative assistant’ was snubbed at the expense of the company’s preference towards male hiring employees. This is an unquestionable case of discriminatory behaviour as the job advertisement published on the internet clearly stated that men only need apply. Miss Ju sued for RMB 50,000 (£50,000) compensation and demanded an apology for her sufferance. The case was eventually settled by both parties in December 2013, with an apology and recompense of RMB 30,000 (£30,000) being awarded to the plaintiff.

This case is of particular interest in recent Chinese employment law because it is considered to be a pivotal moment of change in China’s discrimination practices and a sign of the country’s positive social alterations. The employment law at the centre of this case is China’s Employment Promotion Law which was brought into legislation back in 2008. This law forbids sexual discrimination from existing within the Chinese employment process, but despite it being enforced for nearly six years, sex discrimination has often been overlooked. The Beijing case is acknowledged as the first time that the Employment Promotion Law has been genuinely upheld in a Chinese court, whereas past claims of unfair exclusion from job opportunities were not taken seriously by employment law solicitors.

It is hoped that the result of this case will not only end sexual discrimination in Chinese employment law, but also encourage other people who have been victims of other kinds of discrimination to come forward, regardless of the prejudice they have faced, thereby encouraging anti-discrimination litigation that will eventually bring complete equality to Chinese employment.

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