An employee at Alibaba, China’s e-commerce behemoth, was fired after she accused her boss, who was on business in the country at the time, of sexually assaulting her. The case has drawn attention to the toxic workplace culture that exists in the country’s tech industry, as well as the difficulties that Chinese women face when they are subjected to sexual harassment or assault.
The lady, who has only been named by her last name in court documents, received notice of her dismissal in a letter last month from a firm affiliate located in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Tmall Technology, according to Du Peng, a lawyer who is defending her.
The business fired the individual she charged, and two senior executives resigned as a result of their failure to take action after Ms. Zhou brought the incident to their attention. Her allegation is now being challenged by the corporation, which claims in the dismissal letter that she “shared lies such as ‘raped by executives and the company knew about it but did nothing about it.'”
Her charge has not been suppressed by censors, as was the case when Peng Shuai, a top tennis player, made an allegation of sexual assault against a former vice premier, Zhang Gaoli, which was later removed from the internet.
On Sunday, Alibaba did not reply to a request for comment on the situation. In addition to verifying her dismissal and the letter telling her, Mr. Du, her attorney, refused to say anything further other than what had already been published by Dahe Daily, a magazine of the state-owned Henan Daily Newspaper Group.
An extensive interview with Ms. Zhou was published by the journal, in which she detailed the misery she had undergone in the aftermath of her allegation, including abuse on social media, the threat of legal action against her and, as of Nov. 25, her termination from her job. Ms. Zhou, according to Mr. Du, was unavailable for comment at the time of publication.
Prosecutors in Jinan conducted an investigation into her allegations, but stated in September that they would not bring charges against Mr. Wang because his actions did not constitute a criminal offence. The second guy, who has been named in police reports by his last name, Zhang, is still being investigated for his involvement in the events of that night, according to reports from the media.
Due to the decision not to prosecute Mr. Wang, the matter has received increased attention in the media. Because of Alibaba’s popularity, and partly because of the government’s campaign against the company and its founder, Mr. Ma, it has gained widespread attention.
Ms. Zhou accused Alibaba of sexual misconduct, and the firm responded by declaring “zero-tolerance for sexual misconduct” and promising to design a clear policy against sexual harassment and establish a dedicated route for workers to report incidences of misconduct.
According to her dismissal letter, the firm is now subject to legal repercussions as a result of her actions. It did not identify which case it was referring to, although Mr. Wang’s wife has said publicly that she intends to file a lawsuit against the company over his departure.
The letter implied that the corporation had sought Ms. Zhou’s participation, and that it had offered to pay the costs of her legal representation and psychiatric evaluation. It said that she had not replied to the message. She also did not reply to what looked to be an attempt to negotiate her dismissal from the company.
When it came time to dismiss her, however, the company cited an article in the company’s code of conduct that stated: “Publishing or disseminating inappropriate remarks to the outside world, or deliberately fabricating or disseminating fictitious facts, or disseminating unconfirmed information, causing bad influence, are all grounds for dismissal.”