Woman wins settlement in discrimination case

Updated: 2013-02-01 01:55

By Yang Yao and Chen Xin (China Daily)

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A disgruntled jobseeker in South China has won her battle for compensation over a company's discriminatory job advertisement.

Liang, who did not want to be identified by her full name for fear of putting off future employers, has been awarded 601 yuan ($97) by labor authorities in Guangzhou, capital of Guangdong province.

"I'm really pleased," the 25-year-old said on Thursday. "The money is not important. I'm just glad I won this case."

The payout comes after Liang complained to printing materials manufacturer Guangzhou Baole Trade in October about their recruitment ad for salesmen.

As a graduate from South China Normal University, she applied for the sales position but was denied an interview because she is a woman.

"The company said explicitly in the ad that they only wanted male applicants," she said. "But why is that? I can do whatever a man can do."

With the help of Pang Kun, a lawyer who offered to take the case pro bono, Liang took her complaint to authorities. On Jan 15, the company posted an apology online.

"We extend our sincere apology to female applicants for the harm brought by restricting the sales position to men," the apology read. "We're now correcting the discriminatory behavior, and we promise this will never happen again."

The company also paid compensation to Liang of 600 yuan for fees incurred when making the complaint and 1 yuan for mental anguish.

According to Pang, this is the first gender discrimination case nationwide that has been resolved in favor of the complainant. "However, the problem has been solved via administrative complaint, not in a judicial way," he said.

Pang said he handled a similar case in Beijing, but the court refused to put the case on record because it found it hard to prove discrimination on the basis of gender and to measure the victim's loss.

"Employers may find other excuses to refuse recruiting a woman, say capability or something else," Pang said. "It is hard to make a judgment."

Because judicial practice concerning the issue is new, victims can turn to labor authorities to protect their rights, said Huang Yizhi, a labor law expert at Beijing Ruifeng Law Firm.

Huang said a regulation released by the country's labor and commerce authorities in 2005 stipulates the authorities' right to punish employers who violate anti-gender discrimination clauses in labor law.

But the regulation does not set any standard for the punishment of the violation, she said.

In an attempt to fix the loophole, lawmakers and political advisers in Hubei province called this week for faster legislation of the anti-discrimination act in employment and local regulations, to ensure equal opportunities for women in the workplace.

Employers in Shenzhen, Guangdong, face fines of up to 30,000 yuan if they are proved to have discriminated during recruitment, according to regulations that took effect on Jan 1.

Employers should not set any restriction on gender when hiring workers, and they should not refuse to hire people or raise the threshold of employment because of candidates' gender, marital status or pregnancy, according to the regulation.

Contact the writers at yangyao@chinadaily.com.cn and chenxin1@chinadaily.com.cn