Outcome awaited in HIV carrier's job case

By Zhang Yue (China Daily)
Updated: 2010-10-14 06:50
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ANQING, Anhui - The mainland's first trial over discrimination against HIV-positive jobseekers opened on Wednesday morning, without reaching a result.

The trial, which lasted more than three hours, involves a college graduate in Anqing, Anhui province, who was rejected for a teaching job due to being HIV positive.

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The plaintiff, who is known by the alias of Xiao Wu, did not attend the proceedings on Wednesday to protect his identity. His lawyers, Li Fangping, of Beijing, and Zheng Jineng, of Anhui, represented him in court.

Wu Gonghua, deputy director of the department of education in Anqing, and the education department's lawyer, Wei Guo, were in court.

Zhang Lie, of the Anqing people's court of Yingjiang district, said evidence presented by both parties needs to be verified and members of the court need to further discuss the case.

According to court procedures, the case, which was filed on Aug 30, needs to reach a conclusion by Nov 30.

The department of education in Anqing had rejected Xiao Wu's application for a job because he had tested HIV positive. Under the civil service's recruitment policy, HIV carriers cannot be recruited as civil servants, Wei said in court.

However, under the Employment Promotion Law that took effect in 2008, it is illegal to reject any job applicant on the basis of an infectious disease.

During the hearing, two subjects were extensively discussed: whether it is legal for all institutions to recruit according to the civil service's recruitment policy and whether that policy, which the department of education in Anqing had invoked in rejecting Xiao Wu's application, is legally practical.

Xiao Wu's lawyer Li Fangping defended the first case of discrimination against a jobseeker with hepatitis B in Tianjin in 2006. The trial repeatedly adjourned before the case was eventually resolved by conciliation.

After the trial on Wednesday, Li said that while the two cases shared a number of similarities, there was a limited prospect of conciliation being reached in the current case, because both sides had firmly stood their ground.

Li said Xiao Wu's case was difficult because it was a legal first and people have negative associations about the way HIV/AIDS is transmitted.

Xiao Wu learned about the outcome of the trial by telephone. "This is about what I expected before the trial began," he said.

"I know my case may take a relatively long time, since it is believed to be the first case in China about discrimination against HIV carriers in the job market. But I will try to remain positive about my chance of winning."

A woman, surnamed Zheng, mother of a 9-year-old pupil at Renminlu primary school in Anqing, said that while she had yet to hear about the case, she could not accept having an HIV-positive teacher for her child.

"Despite concerns over infection, I am more worried about how the person contracted HIV," she said.

"I also don't think a teacher who tested HIV positive would be able to teach my child well, because he might have problems in his personal life," she added.

However, Jiang, another resident of Anqing who owns a grocery store, said she hopes Xiao wins his case.

"There are limited ways of contracting HIV/AIDS," she said. "He deserves to have the job he wants if he has a sound mind."