Congratulations to Justice for All on their successful negotiation of this important anti-discrimination case. Cheng Yuan is a recent graduate of the Asia Catalyst 2012 NGO Leadership Cohort.
By Cheng Yuan
On January 25, 2013, an important court victory against HIV/AIDS employment discrimination was achieved in China's Jiangxi Province, when the Nanjing-based NGO, Justice for All successfully mediated with a government agency and obtained compensation for the plaintiff in the lawsuit, Ms. Qi. The agency that was sued paid CNY 45,000 ($7,229 USD) in compensation to Ms. Qi, who thus became China's first person living with HIV/AIDS to receive compensation in an employment discrimination case.
In September of 2012, Ms. Qi's application to work as a teacher in Jiangxi was rejected based on her status as a person living with HIV/AIDS. In November, she sued the local Administrative Department for Education on the recommendation of Justice For All. This lawsuit has been described by Chinese media as "Jiangxi's First AIDS Employment Discrimination Case."
Prior to this case, China had three other AIDS employment discrimination cases, all of which arose from teacher licensing, and all of which ended with the court ruling against the plaintiffs or dismissing the case entirely.
The plaintiffs for these cases were all held to the Civil Servant Physical Standard to work as teachers, and it is said that the standard clearly states, "AIDS patients do not pass." This part of the code has become a systemic obstacle for people living with HIV/AIDS to secure equal employment opportunities.
Justice For All has expressed its satisfaction with the court's ruling in this case as an important milestone on the road toward erasing the discriminatory AIDS clause in the Civil Servant Physical Standard and securing equal rights and privileges for people living with HIV/AIDS.
This case will serve as a warning to employers, discouraging similar incidents in the future. It will also undoubtedly inspire other people living with HIV/AIDS to step forward and defend their right to equal employment. Justice For All is also encouraged by the relative speed of this first successful ruling, on only the fourth case, particularly when compared to the progress of hepatitis B anti-discrimination work. Justice For All is committed to the continuing effort of securing equal employment rights for the nation's AIDS patients by providing them with free legal representation.