Alibaba beneath social media storm after employees alleges sexual assault

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba was once again embroiled in a social media storm, this time not because of Ant’s suspended IPO or the antitrust penalty, but rather because of allegations of sexual assault.

An Alibaba employee claimed on the company’s intranet that she was sexually abused by her manager and a customer while on a “forced” business trip, according to a post from an account verified as an “Alibaba employee” that has been on social media since Saturday afternoon.

According to screenshots of the woman’s 11-page PDF allegation that went viral on China’s Twitter-like platform Weibo, her boss asked her to “keep in company” on the evening of July 27 in Jinan, east China’s Shandong Province. “Kissed and touched intimate parts” by one of the customers.

The woman said she was hungover in a hotel room the next morning without undressing and not remembering what happened late that night, but noticed that her boss walked into her room four times based on CCTV footage. She then called the police.

She allegedly reported the incident to Human Resources and senior management on August 2nd, but they did not proactively investigate.

After failing to attract the attention of executives, the woman yelled and handed out flyers according to her online posts in the company’s dining room.

An Alibaba spokesman replied to CGTN, saying it has “a zero tolerance policy on sexual misconduct” and ensuring a safe workplace for employees is the company’s “top priority”.

“We have suspended relevant parties suspected of violating our policies and values, and we have set up a dedicated internal task force to investigate the issue and assist with the ongoing police investigation. We will provide further updates as we continue to work with law enforcement on the investigation. “

Late on Saturday night, Alibaba CEO Daniel Zhang said on the company’s message board that he felt “shocked, angry and ashamed” about what had happened to the woman and made related departments and managers for their “silence and sluggish response” responsible, two employees, the Zhangs message and required anonymity to CGTN.

Alibaba employees are outraged by the incident, both sources said.

Over 6,000 employees have started a petition asking Alibaba to fire the woman’s boss and better protect employees’ rights, one of the sources said.

According to the Jinan Police Department and the Jinan Hualian supermarket, for which the customer works, a police investigation is underway against the alleged customer.

However, the suspect denied the allegation to Jiupai News, a local Chinese digital news provider, claiming that what happened that evening was “just an ordinary dinner” and that he “did nothing excessive.”

Alibaba on Tuesday reported a 34 percent increase in revenue for the quarter that ended in June, driven by its retail and cloud computing businesses. It was previously fined 18.23 billion yuan ($ 2.78 billion) by the country’s market regulators in April for abusing its dominant position.

(Yang Jing and Gong Zhe from CGTN contributed to the story.)

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