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Employment discrimination

Teacher with HIV receives 45,000 yuan in employment discrimination case

A teacher in the eastern Chinese city of Nanchang has accepted 45,000 yuan in compensation after filing a lawsuit against his local education department for employment discrimination. Xiao Qi (a pseudonym) had been refused employment by the Jinxian county education department because he was HIV positive.

The official Xinhua news agency reported that, despite excelling on his teacher qualification examination, Xiao Qi was denied a job in the county school system when a pre-employment health check revealed his HIV status.

“I was indignant when I learnt that I lost the chance to be a teacher, but the compensation I got just illuminates that the law can guarantee the legal rights of people with HIV/AIDS,” Xiao Qi told Xinhua.

Xiao Qi filed a lawsuit against the education department in November 2012. The following month, and in a court mediated settlement, Xiao Qi agreed to withdraw the lawsuit while the education department agreed to pay him 45,000 yuan in compensation.

Although the court did not technically rule that the education department had discriminated against Xiao Qi, experts said the mediated agreement was still a major breakthrough. Liu Wei, a public interest lawyer pointed out to Xinhua:

It's extremely hard for AIDS patients to seek legal help in China, and there have been several court cases of AIDS employment discrimination, the claimant failing to win in all of them. Xiao Qi's case is a milestone in China's HIV/AIDS anti-discrimination work.

This AIDS discrimination case follows a series of similar employment discrimination lawsuits by people with HBV, the virus which causes Hepatitis B. Many of those HBV discrimination cases have been successful but, despite bearing several similarities to HBV discrimination cases, HIV lawsuits have until recently been routinely rejected by the courts, while the few cases that had been accepted resulted in the plaintiff losing.

Now that the Jinxian county education department has paid out a considerable amount in compensation, there is a greater chance that other victims of discrimination will be inspired to file similar lawsuits and also that local governments will revise their discriminatory policies for public servants with HIV.

Indeed there are now many more influential voices in China calling for the revision or complete removal of the pre-employment health check system. Legal expert, Liang Feng, for example, was quoted by the People’s Daily as saying that the recruitment of public servants should not rely on the results of medical tests.