Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba said Monday it has fired a manager who was accused of rape by another employee of the company.
In addition to the termination, two other senior managers, Li Yonghe and Xu Kun, have resigned, CEO Daniel Zhang said in a memo to employees.
The fallout comes after a female employee posted an 11-page account on Alibaba’s internal website saying her boss, Wang Chengwen, and a client sexually assaulted her.
The woman alleged that Wang pressured her to drink excessively, then kissed and groped her against her will.
She also claimed her superiors and human resources at the company failed to take the matter seriously in the five days since she reported it.
Zhang, Alibaba’s chief executive, said Wang “confessed that there were intimate acts with [her] while she was inebriated.”
“He will be fired and never be rehired. Whether he has committed rape or indecency that violates the law will be determined by law enforcement,” he said.
The allegations and the woman’s 11-page essay were widely shared across social media sites in China and sparked sweeping discussion of workplace sexual harassment in the country.
While the #MeToo movement that shook the US and many Western countries has yet to take off in the same way in China, it has gained steam in recent months. Last month, for example, Beijing police detained Kris Wu, a Chinese Canadian rapper and former member of K-pop supergroup Exo, after a fan accused him of rape.
The recent allegations at Alibaba caught enough attention to draw the ire of China’s state media, which roundly criticized the company for its alleged delay in handling the allegations.
“Alibaba could not offer an answer that satisfies public opinion for this ham-handed inaction,” read an editorial in the Global Times tabloid published by the state-run People’s Daily.
Zhang noted in his memo that Alibaba’s chief people officer, Judy Tong, will also receive a demerit for the company’s poor handling of the allegations.
He outlined other steps, including company-wide anti-sexual harassment training, creating a dedicated channel for employee reports and establishing a zero-tolerance policy on sexual harassment.
“This incident is shameful for all Aliren,” Zhang said, using a term that refers to employees of the company. “We must rebuild, and we must change. Change is only possible if everyone takes individual action, but it must start at the top. It starts with me. Please wait and watch.”