Chinese netizens support transgender employee winning labor contract lawsuit

Source:Global Times Published: 2020/7/4 19:39:50


Chinese online bookstore was caught up in an employee discrimination case due to ending a labor contract with an employee after the latter underwent transgender surgery. 

The ruling went viral on Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter, over the weekend after a civil judgment in January involving Dangdang and a transgender employee was released on the In-ternet. 

The case was triggered by a male employee of Dangdang surnamed Gao who underwent transgender surgery but was fired by Dangdang for "absence of work" while the employee took two months' leave. 

A court in Beijing has made a final decision that both parties continue the labor contract and that Gao has the right to use the female toilet as a woman, and other colleagues should also accept Gao's new identity and work with her in an inclusive manner.

Most internet users voiced their support over the ruling. A poll by over 320,000 internet users showed that two thirds of the voters supported the ruling adding that society needs to be more tolerant. 80,000 believed that it is one's own freedom to have the surgery and the company has no right to interfere. 

"I may not be able to go to the bathroom with a transgender person. But I also don't agree to have him fired because of this reason. The world needs some tolerance. These people exist in society. As long as they are citizens, they have the right to be treated equally," a netizen com-mented. 

In 2015, Gao joined as the product director of the technical department with a monthly salary of 51,259 yuan ($7,240).

In April 2018, Gao was diagnosed with gender dysphoria by the Shanghai Mental Health Center, which required male-to-female transgender surgery. 

After experiencing internal struggles, Gao applied for sick leave to his supervisor at the end of June 2018, and then was hospitalized for surgery. According to the hospital's rehabilitation rec-ommendations, Gao took leave for more than two months. 

In September 2018, Dangdang terminated the labor contract with Gao on the grounds that Gao was absent from work. Gao sued the company in November.

Dangdang said that Gao's position is irreplaceable and unique, that Gao's physical condition can't adapt to the work intensity of Dangdang, and the employees of Dangdang were concerned about Gao's condition to continue the contract and were uncomfortable in working with him. 

A judgment by a primary people's court determined that the termination of the labor contract did not comply with the law. Dangdang refused to accept it and appealed to Beijing No. 2 Inter-mediate People's Court which upheld the original ruling in January, 2020. 

The court also stated that after relevant public security organs have changed Gao's gender from male to female, Gao has the right to use female toilets, other colleagues should also accept Gao's new gender.

The judgment shows that China legally recognizes the identity of transgender people, Deng Xue-fei, a Shanghai based lawyer told the Global Times on Saturday. 

Gao's identity has been changed and registered at the public security bureau as female which means she is now a woman legally and can use the women's bathroom," he said.

"However, concerns from employees also reflect a real problem. People familiar with Gao may be embarrassed when using the same bathroom with her and may have difficulties in recognizing her new identity psychologically."

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