Activists accuse firm of targeting hepatitis B carriers

Students and Scholars against Corporate Misbehavior (SACOM www.sacom.hk) and Beijing-based Yirenping (www.yirenping.org), a support group for Hepatitis B carriers, displayed signs and shouted slogans for two hours outside a Hong Kong listed electronics company, VTech Holdings, on 30 July 2007. Activists urged the firm to seriously take up its corporate social responsibility (CSR) and to respect Chinese workers’ right to equal employment.

Dozens of activists from Hong Kong and mainland China protested outside the technology firm’s marketing office against a recruitment policy they say targets Hepatitis B carriers. A 23-year-old male university graduate from Hubei Province sued the firm in Dongguan City in January after he was rejected for a vacancy for carrying the virus. This Hepatitis B discrimination case is the first case ever heard by a local court in Guangdong, southern China.

Approximately 120 million of Hepatitis B carriers, some 10 percent of China’s population, are deprived of fair employment. According to research findings published by China Foundation for Hepatitis Prevention and Control in June 2007 (www.cfhpc.org), multinational corporations such as Motorola, Siemens, Philips, Foxconn, Sony, and Samsung were suspected rejecting HBV carriers in their Chinese facilities.