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    Zodiac Signs, Height, Blood Type: Absurd Hiring Rules Draw Fire

    Discriminatory recruitment practices by some Chinese companies are now drawing criticism from state media for violating privacy and equal employment rights.
    Jul 06, 2023#labor

    From demanding specific blood types and assessing palm readings to even imposing restrictions based on zodiac signs, a disturbing trend of discriminatory recruitment practices across China is drawing criticism from state media for violating equal employment rights.

    According to domestic media, such practices can be attributed to the surplus of candidates amid China’s sluggish job market, with fewer positions available. Data from the National Bureau of Statistics shows that the youth unemployment rate rose to 20.8% in May. 

    In an attempt to streamline the selection process, some employers are resorting to unconventional recruitment practices that have little to do with job qualifications and responsibilities. Employers have also used factors like height, birthplace, and family names to pick their preferred candidates. 

    In a commentary published Wednesday, the state-owned China Youth Daily warned that such discriminatory practices violate privacy and equal employment rights of candidates.

    “Setting unreasonable recruitment restrictions seems intended to embarrass candidates. However, it’s embarrassing to the companies themselves as well, as such unconventional requirements may bring the companies legal issues, and the risk of being investigated and punished,” stated the commentary. 

    Some restrictions border on the absurd. 

    Wu Yuanyuan, a 29-year-old woman in Changsha, Hunan province, was asked for her zodiac sign while applying for an accountant position via Boss Zhipin, the recruitment platform, in February. 

    Her application was met with silence after she disclosed her zodiac sign, which supposedly clashed with the boss’s sign.

    “Zodiac signs have nothing to do with my work ability,” Wu told Sixth Tone Thursday. “It’s unreasonable for the company to set such requirements. I wouldn’t have taken the interview even if I had the chance.” 

    Similar instances have emerged on Xiaohongshu, the lifestyle platform, where several job seekers have shared their experiences. 

    Applicants for waiting staff positions were informed that their zodiac signs conflicted with the employer’s preferences. Some job listings went to the extent of placing restrictions on family names, while others dictated that candidates should avoid specific characters in their names or ancestral homes. 

    In its commentary, the China Youth Daily also called for stricter supervision over recruitment practices by reducing the burden of proof on workers, opening channels for making complaints, and providing legal assistance. 

    Preventing and opposing all forms of employment discrimination has also been a popular topic at meetings of the National People’s Congress — China’s legislature — in recent years. Some NPC deputies have suggested that China should enact a law to prevent employment discrimination as soon as possible.

    Editor: Apurva.

    (Header image: Visuals from VCG, reedited by Sixth Tone)