Alibaba fires employee who alleged sexual assault by coworkertext_fields
Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has come under fire after news spread that it had fired a female employee who claimed she was sexually assaulted by a former coworker and his client. The lady employee made the claims on company intranet in August, detailing her struggle to make her issues heard.
Dahe Daily, a government-backed newspaper, interviewed the employee who had published what was allegedly her termination letter, which she received at the end of November. The employee said the cause of firing was her accusations having "caused strong social concern and had a bad impact on the company." She intends to appeal this unfair termination.
"I have not made any mistakes and certainly will not accept this result, and in the future will use legal means to protect my rights and interests," Dahe Daily quoted her as saying.
The case elicited widespread attention in China even as Alibaba fired the accused coworker but also 10 others who spoke up about the assault. Chinese social media users reportedly highlighted the culture of women being objectified in business culture and forced to drink alongside superiors and clients which in the case of this female employee, had led to sexual assault.
Alibaba chief executive officer Daniel Zhang, has previously been reported as saying he was "shocked, furious, and ashamed" about the misconduct case. Meanwhile Chinese prosecutors later dropped the case against the employee's co-worker, stating that he committed forcible indecency but not a crime, but approved the arrest of the client in early September.
Police refutations of certain parts of the allegations made by the former Alibaba employee have also raised doubt over her claims amidst China's growing MeToo movement. The employee told the Dahe Daily she received many messages from women saying they too had been sexually assaulted and forced to drink in the workplace, but most stayed quiet to avoid repercussions.
Previous #MeToo discussions have been heavily censored, including tennis star Peng Shui's allegations of assault against a Chinese government official that saw her online confession of the incident disappear as well as the athlete herself. Although she has since reappeared in videos released by Chinese state media, it's still unclear whether she is safe and able to speak freely.