This article will analyze the issue of employment discrimination and misconduct dismissal in relation to the Meituan discrimination controversy.
- Overview of The Event
In May 2017, a screenshot of a job posting for a product operations role at Meituan-Dianping, a Chinese online platform for food delivery and restaurant reviews, was circulated online. The posting contained strict requirements, including “1. Don’t hire those who is ugly. 2. Don’t hire graduate students or Ph.D.s. 3. Don’t hire people who drive a Volkswagen. 4. Don’t hire people who believe in traditional Chinese medicine. 5. In principle, don’t hire people from areas formerly flooded by the HuangHe river or Northeastern China.”
This posting triggered a backlash from netizens, who accused Meituan-Dianping and the poster, employee Tian Yuan, of regional discrimination, among other things. The company’s brand reputation was damaged, and some job seekers expressed reluctance to apply to the company.
After the incident was exposed, Meituan-Dianping quickly issued a statement stating that the opinions expressed by the HR employee in the job posting did not represent the company’s views, and that the employee had been dismissed for making inappropriate comments that caused extremely negative effects both inside and outside the company. The incident was widely covered in the media, and some commentators called for greater efforts to combat discrimination in employment practices.
- Anti-discrimination related laws
Regarding employment discrimination, the third article of the ” Law of the People’s Republic of China on Employment Promotion ” stipulates that Workers shall have the right to equal employment and to choose job on their own initiative in accordance with the law. Workers seeking employment shall not be subject to discrimination based on factors such as ethnicity, race, gender, religious belief etc.
If an company engages in employment discrimination, it may bear legal responsibility under the “Civil Code of the People’s Republic of China.” The company may be required to take measures such as stopping infringement, removing obstacles, eliminating danger, returning property, restoring the status quo, compensating for losses, apologizing, eliminating influence, and restoring reputation.
In the Meituan discrimination controversy, the discriminatory language used by Tian Yuan in the job posting against the five categories of people constitutes employment discrimination. If an individual from one of the five categories applies to Meituan and is refused employment based on their category, Meituan will be held responsible for employment discrimination, subject to specific circumstances. However, individuals who did not apply to Meituan do not have the right to make claims against employment discrimination itself and demand that Meituan bear legal responsibility, as they lack standing to sue.
- Termination of Employee
- Does Tian Yuan’s behavior constitute serious misconduct?
First, Tian Yuan’s expression were discriminatory in job recruitment.
Second, Tian Yuan posted the discriminatory comments in a large work group with over 5,000 people and did not request that others not spread them outside the group. It is evident that Tian Yuan intended for the comments to spread widely and thus should have foreseen the consequences of such discriminatory comments reaching the public.
Third, the spread of discriminatory recruitment information to the public has indeed caused serious damage to Meituan’s reputation and image.
Fourth, Tian Yuan’s status as a product operator rather than HR staff does not affect the nature of his behavior because he was recruiting on behalf of Meituan, not in his personal capacity. Therefore, his behavior can be considered an extension of his work.
In conclusion, Tian Yuan’s behavior may constitute serious misconduct, and Meituan is justified in terminating his employment.
- Does the disseminator of discriminatory post constitute serious misconduct?
First, the disseminator’s behavior has indeed caused damage to Meituan’s reputation and image.
Second, the disseminator’s motivation cannot be ascertained, perhaps it was a personal vendetta against Tian Yuan, or it was an attempt to harm Meituan’s interests, or it was simply for gossip.
Third, the disseminator used an abnormal method that was detrimental to Meituan’s interests, and they should have foreseen the negative impact that spreading the information to the public would have on the company. The normal approach should have been to report the incident of Tian Yuan’s discriminatory recruitment information to Meituan internally, minimizing the impact as much as possible.
In conclusion, the disseminator’s behavior may constitute serious misconduct, and Meituan is justified in terminating their employment.
- How can Meituan terminate an employee for “serious misconduct” favourably?
- Establishment of rules and regulations
- The establishment of rules and regulations should go through democratic procedures and be made public or communicated to employees.
- The rules and regulations can include a provision that prohibits employees from engaging in inappropriate behavior (listed one by one), which may result in different levels of disciplinary action based on the severity of the misconduct, such as disrupting normal production and operation order or affecting the work of oneself or other employees, or harming the interests or reputation of the company or other employees, or causing other adverse effects.
- It is not possible for rules and regulations to cover every detail, such as the case of Tian Yuan’s discriminatory recruitment information or the disseminator’s abnormal handling method, but a catch-all provision can be added to the above-mentioned clause, such as “employees engaged in other inappropriate behaviors.”
- Evidence collection for misconduct
- Collect objective evidence, such as surveillance video, that employees cannot deny.
- Require employees to confirm the facts of the misconduct themselves, either by signing or recording.
- Use third-party evidence such as other employees or customers to prove the misconduct, but such evidence is weak due to the existence of conflicts of interest.