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Alibaba fires employee who accused former co-worker of sexual assault

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding has dismissed a female employee who accused a former co-worker of sexual assault earlier this year, government-backed newspaper Dahe Daily reported late on Saturday.

Dahe Daily interviewed the employee, saying she had received notification of termination at the end of November, and published a copy of what she said was her termination letter.

The letter said the employee had spread false information about being assaulted and about the company not handling the case. It added this “caused strong social concern and had a bad impact on the company”.

“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,” the newspaper quoted the employee as saying in the interview.

Alibaba did not respond to a request for comment outside of working hours. A lawyer for the employee did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Alibaba, China’s largest e-commerce firm, was rocked by the sexual assault allegation in August after the female employee published an account on the company’s intranet stating that she was assaulted by her co-worker and a client during a business trip.

Alibaba fired the co-worker accused of assault, but also dismissed 10 other employees for publicizing the incident.

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.

In China, issues of sexual harassment and assault were rarely brought up in the public sphere until the #MeToo movement took off in 2018, when a Beijing college student publicly accused her professor of sexual harassment.

  • Reporting by Emily Chow in Beijing, Josh Horwitz and Brenda Goh in Shanghai; Editing by Frances Kerry, of Reuters.
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