An Alibaba employee who accused a senior manager and a client of sexual assault has been fired, along with 10 other employees who were dismissed for leaking information about the case.
The termination: The employee, only identified by her surname Zhou, revealed to newspaper Dahe Daily that she did not receive a severance and was only compensated for her work until her termination on Nov. 25 by the Chinese e-commerce conglomerate, according to the Associated Press.
- Zhou’s termination letter indicated that she was fired for allegedly spreading false information about the allegation and how the company failed to address the situation, BBC reported.
- In addition to Zhou, 10 other employees have also been fired for allegedly leaking details from Alibaba’s employee forums, which has over 250,000 members from the e-commerce giant and fintech giant Ant Group Co., Al Jazeera reported.
- The unidentified employees were reportedly accused of sharing a screenshot of Zhou’s post to the public with their identification information blurred out, people close to the matter told Al Jazeera. The other employees were reportedly fired for making inappropriate comments in public forums.
- Many reacted negatively to Zhou’s termination on social media, with the hashtag “Female Alibaba employee fired” gaining viral attention on Weibo on Monday. The topic has reportedly been viewed more than 680 million times.
- Chinese police had reportedly refuted some of Zhou’s claims, including one where she claimed she had found an opened pack of condoms under her hotel room bed.
- Zhou’s experience has ignited an overdue discussion online on how Chinese women have always been brushed aside after reporting sexual abuse.
The accusation: Zhou shed light on what happened in her 8,000-word account in August. In her post, she accused her former supervisor, Wang Chengwen, and a company client of sexually assaulting her following an alcohol-fueled business dinner in the city ofJinan in July.
- According to Zhou’s account, Wang allegedly forced her to drink alcohol during their meeting on July 27, and the client, only identified by his surname Zhang, kissed her. Zhou also claimed that she woke up naked inside her hotel room the following day, and after acquiring surveillance footage, she discovered that Wang had entered her room several times that night.
- Although Alibaba’s human resources (HR) department agreed to her request to fire Wang, the company allegedly did nothing. The lack of response from the company led to a protest at Alibaba’s company cafeteria, and Zhou’s account soon went viral.
The aftermath: In a memo released by Alibaba’s Daniel Zhang in August, the CEO revealed that Wang was fired after admitting to his “intimate acts.” Zhang noted further that the supervisor will “never be rehired” after his termination, CNBC reported.
- “Whether he has committed rape or indecency that violates the law will be determined by law enforcement,” the memo read in part.
- Li Yonghe, head of a division that partly consists of Alibaba’s food delivery business, and Xu Kun, the division’s human resources chief, have also resigned from their positions. Alibaba Chief People Officer Judy Tong will receive a demerit for the incident.
- Zhang has criticized HR’s handling of the situation, saying the department “did not pay enough attention and care to our people.”
- “Alibaba Group has a zero-tolerance policy against sexual misconduct, and ensuring a safe workplace for all our employees is Alibaba’s top priority,” a spokesperson for Alibaba said in a statement.
- Zhou’s former client was fired from his job as a senior executive of Jinan Hualian supermarket and was arrested in August. Although an investigation was launched on Wang that same month, prosecutors had reportedly dropped his case in September. They said the supervisor’s actions were not a criminal offense, and he was only charged with “forcible indecency,” which has a maximum penalty of 15 days of detention.