Trait Carriers in China Sue Over Job Discrimination

February 4, 2010 – Recent stories in the Chinese press have reported that three thalassemia trait carriers are suing a local government agency for denying them jobs due to their trait carrier status.

According to a February 3 article in China Daily, government health law precludes the hiring of civil servant workers if they are anemic. The local Bureau of Human Resources and Social Security stated that three applicants “failed a health check-up” because they are trait carriers.

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Although it is not explicitly stated, the article indicates that it was the mere designation of the applicants as thalassemia trait carriers that earned them the designation of “anemic,” rather than an actual examination of their physical status.


While some individuals with thalassemia trait may experience a mild anemia, there have been few studies on trait carriers. Anecdotal evidence suggests that many trait carriers suffer no discernible anemia; in addition, it is possible that in some trait carriers who do experience a mild anemia, factors other than their trait status may contribute to or cause an anemic state.

As there is no research to suggest that all individuals with thalassemia trait experience significant anemia, there should be no basis for discriminating against a job applicant merely because of his or her trait status.

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