Chinese airline sued for Hepatitis B discrimination during recruitment

28 March 2013

In what is believed to be the first court case involving Hepatitis B discrimination in China’s airline industry, charter flight operator, Capital Airlines is being sued for 50,000 yuan for refusing to employ a pilot because he had HBV, the virus which causes Hepatitis B.

The airline denied the charges and the case went trial at the Shunyi District Court, near Beijing’s Capital Airport, on 26 March, the Beijing Morning News (北京晨报) reported.

The 27-year-old plaintiff Fang Ming (pseudonym) applied for a job as a pilot at Capital Airlines in late 2011. After passing his initial aptitude tests, Fang Ming was told to take a medical exam which revealed he was HBV positive. He then received a phone call from Capital Airlines saying that people with HBV could not apply.

The company’s lawyer told the Beijing Morning News that the company was acting in accordance with specific Civil Aviation Administration and Health Ministry health guidelines for pilots. The lawyer also claimed that the plaintiff had performed poorly in his written test and interview and this was the reason why he was rejected. But as Fang Ming’s lawyer pointed out, an employer can only request a medical exam after the written test and interview phase of recruitment is completed. In addition, he argued that pilots were not included in the Ministry of Health regulations on HBV, and he also provided tape recordings of telephone conversations with the company personnel to prove discrimination.

A group of supporters gathered outside the court on Tuesday to demand an end to Hepatitis B discrimination in the airline industry, pointing out that the ability of people with HBV to work was no different from that of healthy people and that included the ability of pilots to fly planes.

HBV discrimination is one of the most common forms of discrimination in the workplace in China and is particularly widespread in industries, such as aviation, in which there is a high demand for jobs.

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