Virus carrier claims hiring bias

(Shanghai Daily)
Updated: 2007-03-07 08:58

A Shanghai court has accepted the first case of a hepatitis B carrier who claims he was discriminated against by an employer because of his medical condition.

The plaintiff, a young university graduate named Chen Cheng, is only one of many virus carriers who are having trouble getting jobs because of misinformed employers, according to a support Website for hepatitis patients. His suit, accusing Shanghai Changshuo Technology Co Ltd of unfair hiring practices, was accepted yesterday by Nanhui District People's Court.

Chen is demanding a public apology and 12,800 yuan (US$1,600) in compensation.

Chen applied for a job at Changshuo in December 2005 when he was a senior at a Jiangsu Province university. After several rounds of interviews, Chen said he was offered a job as an assistant engineer after he graduated. In the meantime, the company asked him to complete a physical.

The report showed Chen carried the hepatitis B virus but was not suffering from the disease, which can cause serious liver damage.

Three weeks after Chen sent the report, Changshuo canceled the employment agreement, Chen's lawyer said.

China has about 120 million hepatitis B virus carriers. Many have suffered similar rejection on the job front, according to a Website that supports those with the condition. In fact, it was after discovering that Website that Chen filed his suit.

While there is apparently no specific law prohibiting such discrimination, a new standard for civil servants that went into effect in January stipulates that hepatitis B carriers shouldn't automatically be barred from most jobs.

Medical experts point out that carriers are different from hepatitis patients, and that the virus can be transmitted only through the exchange of contaminated blood.

The only jobs carriers are not allowed to take are in the food industry and in nurseries.

A Changshuo official surnamed Xiao said yesterday that the firm initially adopted a strict human resources policy but later amended it to accommodate people like Chen - and even offered to let him apply for employment again.

Xiao said the company treats the lawsuit seriously but hopes it can be settled in "a harmonious way."

Chen, who is still unemployed, no longer wants to work for the Shanghai firm, his lawyer said.

Top China News  
Today's Top News  
Most Commented/Read Stories in 48 Hours