Chinese Firm Under Fire For Confining Employee in Dark Room to Make Him Resign

By Thea Felicity

Jul 10, 2024 01:53 PM EDT

Chinese Firm Under Fire For Confining Employee in Dark Room to Make Him Resign
As farmer Li Bingcai opened the door to his cockroach farm in southwest China, an insect the size of a dart flew into his face. Picking the critter off his forehead, he tossed it back into the dark room where some 10 million more of its kind scurried around, housed in wooden frames perched on shelves. The six-legged creatures may be a bugbear for most, but Li and other breeders in China are turning them into a niche business.
(Photo : WANG ZHAO/AFP via Getty Images)

Guangzhou Duoyi Network Co. Ltd has been criticized for confining an employee, Liu Linzhu, to a darkened room without power, computers, or communication devices for four days.

According to the South China Morning Post, it was the company's way to pressure him into resigning. This drastic measure, which social media users claimed was a "draconian treatment," happened at the company's office complex in China. 

It was brought to public attention not by Liu himself but through the company's public challenge of a court ruling.

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Why Guangzhou Duoyi Network Confined its Employee in a Dark Room

The incident began in December 2022 when Liu encountered access issues to the company's computer systems and premises amid negotiations over his resignation. Claiming the need for "training," the company relocated Liu to an isolated room on a different floor, devoid of usual work amenities and underpowered lighting. 

Despite being free to leave the room after work hours, Liu was effectively isolated during working hours and had no assigned tasks.

The company pressured Liu to resign based on allegations of policy violations, specifically his alleged viewing of inappropriate content and browsing unrelated websites during work hours. 

These accusations, which Liu contested as necessary for his role as a game art editor, were grounds for initiating the disciplinary actions that led to his confinement and eventual termination.

How Chinese Employers Coerce Employee Resignation

Apreviouss report by SCMP found that employers in China often use such tactics to coerce resignations rather than outright dismissals, which can be more legally complex and costly due to compensation and severance requirements mandated by labor laws.

In Liu's case, a district-level court later ruled in his favor, deeming the confinement illegal under labor laws that mandate suitable working conditions.

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