China: Landmark Ruling on HIV Employment Discrimination

A court in China finds that it is unlawful for an employer to banish an employee from the workplace due to his or her status as an infectious disease carrier.

On June 19, the Guangzhou Intermediate People’s Court issued a landmark ruling in holding that it is illegal for an employer to require an employee to leave his post in the office to stay at home for “rest” based on the individual’s HIV-positive status.[1] This is the first ruling in the People’s Republic of China (PRC) where the court has deemed that an employer’s banishment of an employee from the workplace because of his or her status as an infectious disease carrier is unlawful. 

Infectious disease carriers in the PRC have experienced considerable recruitment and retention discrimination based on this medical status. The main targets of this discrimination have been carriers of Hepatitis B, who are estimated by some sources to compose approximately 10% of the country’s population. To combat this form of discrimination, among other national and local regulations, government agencies such as the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Security, Ministry of Education, and Ministry of Health in 2010 prohibited the inquiry and testing by employers into whether a candidate is a Hepatitis B carrier.[2] Notably, the local and national regulations generally do not expressly extend to HIV-positive status, but that status is covered under the umbrella category of “infectious disease carriers.” Accordingly, the recent case carries significance because the plaintiff is HIV-positive, and therefore the court’s ruling can be seen as endorsing a broader and more open extension of the protection of law against employment discrimination to include HIV-positive individuals. Read more via National Law Review