Woman Celebrates Victory in Milestone Gender Discrimination Case

November 13, 2014
Editor: Frank Zhao

A woman who sought a declaration that gender was not an acceptable reason for her to be denied employment shall be awarded 2,000 yuan (U.S. $326) in damages, according to the verdict made by a Hangzhou court in east China's Zhejiang Province on November 12, 2014.

It was the first Chinese-court-ordered case relating to gender discrimination in employment since China adopted in 1992 the Law on the Protection of Rights and Interests of Women.

"According to China's law, workers are not to be discriminated against for their gender, and the country guarantees that women enjoy the same right to employment as men," said the court.

With her lawsuit, filed in July 2012, Huang Rong (not her real name) accused a culinary school of discriminatory hiring practices, because it recruited only males for one of its positions.

"Women are able to do the job offered by the defendant," said the court. "The defendant's stipulation, of recruiting only males, is in violation of the law."

"The defendant violated the plaintiff's right to equal employment and imposed discriminatory employment restrictions on the plaintiff," said the court.

Huang applied three times for the training organization's Copywriter and Planner position but was denied each time because the position was "only for males."

In August 2013, the court told Huang that it would try the case.

After graduating from a university in central China's Henan Province in 2012, Huang came to Hangzhou looking for job opportunities. In June, she applied for the training organization's position but to no avail: She contacted the organization and was told the job was for males only, as was stated in its job postings.

Though Huang expressed that she was willing to be sent on business trips, she was nevertheless advised, "women are not considered."

Huang said that she was unable to understand the reason for the blatant gender discrimination. She feared that more female applicants would come across similar unfair treatment, so she decided to bring the case to Xihu District People's Court in Hangzhou.

After learning that the court accepted the case, a group of women mailed open letters to China's Supreme Court, All-China Women's Federation (ACWF) and Xihu District People's Court, praising the court's response to the gender discrimination case.

"We hope the Supreme Court can make a precedent of the case and encourage ACWF for its efforts to curb employment discrimination," said Yi Han, a postgraduate student and one of writers of the letters.

Huang is not the first to stand up and fight against unjust treatment in employment. In August 2013, Cao Ju (pseudonym) filed a lawsuit against Beijing-based private training institute Juren School, for rejecting her job application on the basis that they too recruited only male candidates.

Ultimately, both parties agreed to a settlement at the Haidian District Court in Beijing on December 18, 2013. The culinary school issued a formal apology to Cao and awarded her compensation of 30,000 yuan (U.S. $4,906).

Gender discrimination is still relatively common when it comes to employment. The majority of women who encounter such discrimination choose to keep silent, which made Cao's legal action all the more groundbreaking.

China's Employment Promotion Law, which took effect on January 1, 2008, clearly stipulates that employment discrimination cases can be prosecuted. Nevertheless, few cases involving employment gender discrimination have been brought before courts in the six years since the legislation took effect.

The case didn't end with a verdict made by a judge, but it was nevertheless settled in Cao's favor.

(Source: hb.qq.com/Translated and edited by Women of China)

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