Thalassemia gene carriers denied government jobs

16:34, January 14, 2010      

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GUANGZHOU: Some 31 applicants were denied government department jobs last year because they are thalassemia gene carriers, officials said. And three of those 31 have filed a lawsuit against Foshan government authorities, alleging discrimination.

"Refusing applicants who are thalassemia gene carriers was in accordance with the country's relevant regulations, although all have passed written tests and interviews," said Zhou Jianhua, spokesman for the personnel department of Foshan, Guangdong province.

The Foshan Intermediate People's Court last week accepted the lawsuit, which is believed to be first of its kind in the country. The court has not yet set a date for the trial.

Under the general physical examination standard of government departments employment issued in 2007, applicants will be denied the job if he or she develops anemia, a condition caused by various mineral and vitamin deficiencies.

However, some experts and lawyers said thalassemia gene carriers should not be regarded as anemia patients.

"Those developing light symptoms of thalassemia are no different from others in work and daily life," said Li Chunfu, a doctor with the Guangzhou-based Nanfang Hospital.

"Thalassemia gene carriers or those with light symptoms usually do not develop physical signs," Li said.

"So it is absolutely wrong to deny them job offers. Denying thalassemia gene carriers jobs as government department employees is a kind of discrimination," Li added.

In Guangdong, one in nine people, or about 12 percent of its population, have developed thalassemia, Li said.

The three applicants' lawyer, who declined to be named, said each of their hemoglobin levels is higher than 120 g/L, the lowest count in the national standard to diagnose a person with anemia.

"The personnel authority has made a mistake in deciding they are anemia carriers," the lawyer said
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