Trans­gen­der to sue for­mer em­ployer for dis­crim­i­na­tion

China Daily (Canada) - - SHANGHAI - By WANG ZHENGHUA in Shang­hai wangzhenghua@chi­nadaily.com.cn

A trans­gen­der man who claimed that he was fired be­cause of his gen­der iden­tity is de­ter­mined to take the com­pany to court, ac­cord­ing to his lawyer.

The lit­i­gant, a 28-year-old sur­named Chen, failed to reach an agree­ment with his for­mer em­ployer Cim­ing Checkup, a health ser­vices firm in Guiyang, cap­i­tal of South­west­ern China’s Guizhou prov­ince, at a re­gional ar­bi­tra­tion panel ear­lier this year.

This case has been dubbed as China’s first-ever work­place dis­crim­i­na­tion in­ci­dent in­volv­ing a trans­gen­der per­son.

Cim­ing Checkup fired Chen for wear­ing men’s clothes on the job seven days af­ter he was hired as a sales­per­son last April, said Chen’s lawyer Huang Sha, who works for Guang­dong Jinzhuoyue Lawyers Firm.

The com­pany had agreed to pay Chen for the seven days of em­ploy­ment but re­jected the re­quested com­pen­sa­tion and writ­ten apology.

Cim­ing Checkup could not be reached for com­ment, but a man­ager at the com­pany told the Guiyang Evening News in March that “Chen’s ap­pear­ance re­ally did not fit our stan­dards”.

Chen’s case comes amid ef­forts by some na­tional leg­is­la­tors to in­clude a law against em­ploy­ment dis­crim­i­na­tion on the law-mak­ing agenda of the Na­tional Peo­ple’ Congress. A num­ber of ex­perts have al­ready drawn up a draft of this pro­posed law.

Ad­vo­cates said that, in ad­di­tion to the po­ten­tial pro­tec­tion such in­di­vid­u­als can re­ceive from the le­gal frame­work, education in schools and com­pa­nies about di­ver­si­fied cultures is cru­cial to dis­pelling prej­u­dice and dis­crim­i­na­tion in so­ci­ety.

There needs to be a deeper un­der­stand­ing about the cul­ture of mi­nor­ity groups, Huang said, not­ing that most schools do not con­tain pro­grams about such sub­cul­tures.

“Hor­ror usu­ally comes from some­thing we are un­fa­mil­iar with. It’s hu­man na­ture,” he added.

Steven Paul Bielin­ski, the founder of the non­profit busi­ness net­work WorkForLGBT, said that an im­por­tant first step would be to en­act clear poli­cies that pro­hibit dis­crim­i­na­tion at work based on sex­ual ori­en­ta­tion and gen­der iden­tity.

“Many com­pa­nies have such guide­lines in­cluded in their la­bor con­tracts or em­ployee hand­books, but do lit­tle or noth­ing to dis­cuss or ac­tu­ally en­act these stat­ues in China,” he said.

“LGBT em­ploy­ees need to know they can be open and hon­est at work. Peo­ple spend one third of their lives at work. No one should have to waste all that time pre­tend­ing to be some­one else out of fear of ridicule.”

Hor­ror usu­ally comes from some­thing we are un­fa­mil­iar with. It’s hu­man na­ture.”

Huang Sha,

a lawyer of Guang­dong Jinzhuoyue Lawyers Firm

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