Companies deny accusations of discriminating against recovered COVID-19 patients
Published: Jul 06, 2022 09:08 PM
Visitors enter Shanghai Disneytown in Shanghai Disney Resort after they reopened on June 16, 2022. It was also the 6th anniversary of the opening of the resort (See story on Page 9). Photo: cnsphoto

Visitors enter Shanghai Disneytown in Shanghai Disney Resort after they reopened on June 16, 2022. It was also the 6th anniversary of the opening of the resort (See story on Page 9). Photo: cnsphoto

Several large companies denied on Wednesday accusations that they have imposed discriminatory hiring restrictions against people who have recovered from COVID-19. 

Experts stressed that any form of hiring discrimination, direct or implicit, against persons with infectious diseases or recovered persons is illegal and should be resisted and punished.

Some job seekers in Shanghai are experiencing discrimination in the job search process because they have been infected with COVID-19, reported the Beijing Youth Daily.

Some labor dispatch companies and job agencies are posting job requirements, stating that they will not accept job seekers who have been infected with COVID-19, according to information provided by interviewees in the media report.

These discriminatory postings are issued by job agencies claiming to be representing companies such as Disney and Foxconn. Some job postings even state that if someone is found to have concealed a history of infection and joins the company, they will be fined.

Foxconn told the Global Times on Wednesday that these rumors were untrue. "Foxconn has no relevant requirements and strictly prohibits any discriminatory behavior in the hiring process," the company said.

"We found a false report that Shanghai Disney Resort discriminated against COVID-19 positive candidates in its hiring process," Shanghai Disney Resort posted on its official WeChat account on Monday. 

The recruitment information referred to in the report is not official information published by Shanghai Disney Resort or a third-party recruitment agency authorized by the resort. Shanghai Disney Resort will not entrust anyone or a third party to collect fees from job seekers, the resort said.

It stressed that it is an equal opportunity employer, in a statement sent to the Global Times.

A manager of a small private company in Shanghai told the Global Times on Wednesday that his company has never included this restriction in its hiring terms.

"As a rule, we will ask candidates to provide proof of nucleic acid testing. It doesn't matter if they have been infected or not," he said. "Shanghai residents have been through a difficult time. We can't add more barriers."

However, he said that he had heard that some companies had such a requirement, although it would not be explicitly spelled out.

From a medical perspective, there is no reason to exclude people who have recovered from COVID-19, Guangzhou-based immunologist Zhuang Shilihe told the Global Times on Wednesday.

"From a professional point of view, although it is not uncommon for COVID-19-infected people to test positive again after being discharged from the hospital, it usually just means there are residual fragments of the virus in the body and it is not contagious," Zhuang said.

Most of the people infected in Shanghai during the recent wave of the outbreak were breakthrough infections. Studies have shown that this group produce the highest levels of neutralizing antibodies, suggesting that the risk of re-infection in these recovered individuals is lower than in other sections of the population, he said.

Zhuang noted, however, that some employers could have introduced the restrictions not out of pure medical ignorance, but out of consideration of the actual risks.

"Many employers fear that if one of their employees is infected, the company will have to stop work and production, thus suffering significant financial losses," Zhuang explained, noting however that this does not justify discriminatory provisions.

Zhang Yiwu, a professor at Peking University, told the Global Times that such restrictions are unreasonable and illegal.

However, the fear of infectious diseases and carriers and the targeted discriminatory behavior it leads to is a historical and widespread problem, experts noted.

"There are clear provisions in existing laws against discriminations against people with infectious diseases and those who have recovered," Zhang said. "All parties in society, including the government, employers, job seekers and the public, should express clear opposition to this illegal discrimination."

Zhuang also noted that in China, hepatitis B carriers fought for decades to eliminate discrimination in society, and eventually tough legislation helped solve the problem. "In a progressive society, such a tragedy should not be repeated."

He said the law-breaking behaviors of companies, labor dispatch companies or job agencies must receive substantial punishment so as to be stamped out as soon as possible.