Regulating Employment Discrimination in China: A Discussion from the Socio-legal Perspective

TitleRegulating Employment Discrimination in China: A Discussion from the Socio-legal Perspective
Publication TypeJournal Article
Year of Publication2015
AuthorsLu, Jiefeng
JournalMichigan State International Law Review
Date Published2015///
KeywordsChina, employment discrimination, human rights, law, workers’ rights

China’s legal system continues to struggle with the political and social complications of its rapid economic development. One of the more glaring tensions in China is the treatment of workers in a capitalist economy nested within a socialist political system. Employment discrimination is an emerging issue in Chinese workplace, although studies on discrimination-related subjects, such as the definition of discrimination and its wrongfulness, the nature of anti-discrimination law, the burden of proving discrimination, and remedial measures to discrimination victims, etc. are relatively unsophisticated. This paper focuses on an important but often neglected area on employment discrimination—the capacity of people to perceive discrimination and how that may affect legal remedies. Applying a socio-legal theory in the emergence and transformation of dispute, the paper analyzes the question of why few people file discrimination claims in Chinese courts while violations are many. The paper argues that conceptual and institutional barriers substantially limit the ability of discrimination victims to seek legal remedies. It argues that in addition to perfecting the legal institutions, from the conceptual level Chinese people must perceive discrimination as injurious and violative of their equal employment rights.