In late 2014, Dianping cut off ties with an employee in Nanjing for allegedly sharing a picture of her pay slip on an anonymous online platform. The worker, whose last name is Ji, fired back soon after by sueing the company for a salary and compensation package of over RMB 160,000.

The debacle led to two court cases, with judges finally deciding that Dianping had terminated the work agreement without sufficient evidence and that Ji was owed a large part of the sum she demanded. It also set off some debate about whether workers are allowed to share details of their salary, and if companies should penalize them for doing so.

Ji first joined Dianping’s Nanjing branch in 2011 in the popular food-delivery app’s sales department. According to local media, the company’s job offer statement emphasizes that salary is highly private information and should not be shared among coworkers. Dianping’s company employee handbook also states that revealing employee information without permission is a serious violation, and one’s contract can be broken off as a result. Ji was required to sign a confidentiality agreement stating that the company could fire her without compensation if she violated their terms.

In late December 2014, a partial picture of a pay slip turned up on anonymous social platform Youmi, showing the figures of one employee’s social security and social insurance payments as well as monthly income tax. The picture did not include the name of the company or the worker, although some netizens speculated it came from Dianping.

When O2O giant looked into the matter, they determined that the picture came from Ji’s payroll statement from the previous month. Based on the fact that the company email sent out to Ji containing the payslip had not been forwarded, the staff decided that she must have violated their regulations and terminated the contract soon afterward.

After Ji unsuccessfully applied for labor arbitration, she decided to take the matter to the courts. She sued the company behind Dianping, Hanhai Information Technology Co. Ltd., for RMB 10,000 in unpaid salary for the first half of January 2015 as well as RMB 150,000 to compensate for unlawfully ending her contract.

The first court case yielded a partial win for Ji: although the judgment stated that Dianping didn’t owe her backpay, it also said that Dianping didn’t have enough evidence to prove Ji had shared her payroll on Youmi. Dianping was ordered to pay RMB 120,000 in compensation.

Both appealed to a higher court; however, the most recent decision upheld the previous judgment. In addition, the court stated that Dianping’s employee handbook couldn’t be used as a basis to end a work contract, that salary information wasn’t covered by the terms of the confidentiality agreement, and that the leaked picture didn’t show the employee salary in the first place.

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Bailey Hu

Bailey Hu is based in China’s hardware capital, Shenzhen. Her interests include local maker culture, grassroots innovation and how tech shapes society, as well as vice versa.

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