Hepatitis-B Carriers Continue to Suffer Unlawful Employment Discrimination
The National Human Rights Commission of Korea (NHRC), together with School of Public Health at Seoul National University and Association of Labor Health, conducted a telephone survey of 112 subjects, including 71 hepatitis B carriers and 41 non-hepatitis B carriers. The Industrial Safety and Health Act prohibits classifying hepatitis B as having a physical disability.
However, the public continues to discriminate against persons with hepatitis B. Thus, the general public appears to lack knowledge about Hepatitis-B - regarding the origins of the epidemic, a carrier"s labor abilities and diseases" symptoms - and as a result people tend to discriminate against persons with Hepatitis B when they are seeking employment.
1. Awareness of the root of the infection
Although the hepatitis B virus cannot be transmitted to others in a restaurant or bar environment, the survey found that 46.0% of the non-hepatitis B carriers believe they have a "high possibility of getting infected" in such an environment. And even though the hepatitis B virus does not have any effect on one"s work ability, the survey found that 51.5% of the non-hepatitis B carriers believe that "a hepatitis B carrier has lower work output." In addition, 47.2% of the non-hepatitis-B carriers answered that without any other factors, hepatitis B could get worse and escalate into liver cancer. Thus, the general public holds a biased view and has distorted facts about the virus.
2. Current Employment Status Survey
87.8% of the non-hepatitis-B carriers were employed whereas only 62.0% of the hepatitis-B carriers were employed. 21.1% of the hepatitis-B carriers felt that they had been discriminated against during the employment process compared to 4.9% of the non-hepatitis-B carriers. Hepatitis-B carriers all agree that the physicals (which indicated whether or not they have hepatitis-B) that they had submitted was a significant factor that motivated the employers to discriminate against them.
The survey shows that there are many instances of discrimination against hepatitis-B carriers in employment fields - a situation that could have enormous consequences. Since distorted facts about the disease have caused this discrimination, a nationwide education campaign is necessary. Systematic changes—such as not including the hepatitis-B test results in the physical - is a first step to insure the applicants from being discriminated against and to protect carriers from further experiences of discrimination.