Graduate sues local government for hukou discrimination

07 October 2013

A recent graduate from Anhui is suing the Nanjing Municipal Bureau of Human Resources and Social Security, accusing it of discrimination in its job recruitment drive.

Su Min (pseudonym) is demanding a formal apology and 50,000 yuan in emotional damages after the bureau specified that applicants for a job as a telephone consultant must have a Nanjing household registration (hukou). Su Min’s household registration was in the town of Xuancheng, just 100 kilometres outside Nanjing, and as such she was barred from applying.

“Only people with a Nanjing hukou could apply. I was perfectly qualified; the only thing I lacked was a Nanjing hukou. Is it really possible that only people from Nanjing are able to do this kind of work?” Su Min said in her original complaint back in May.

During the Nanjing district court hearing on 30 September, Su Min’s lawyer argued that the language used in the bureau’s advertisement was clearly discriminatory. However, the bureau claimed that the lawsuit was misdirected because it was an employment agency used by the bureau, rather than the bureau itself, that had actually issued the advertisement.

Moreover, the bureau claimed that the agency, the Drum Tower District Human Resources Service Centre, was the actual employer of the telephone consultants, not the local government.

Su Min and her lawyer countered however that the first line of the advertisement clearly stated that it was the bureau that was recruiting telephone consultants.

After extensive debate, Su Min and her lawyer said they would persist with the lawsuit and add the name of the employment agency to the complaint. No decision has yet been made in the case.

As CLB‘s report on employment discrimination in China shows, hukou discrimination is widespread, especially for graduates, with one survey showing that nearly 60 percent of employers set specific hukou requirements for graduate employees. And even if they can get a job, migrant workers’ access to healthcare, social services and education will be severely constrained by their hukou status.

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