Alibaba sacks manager accused of sexually assaulting employee amid social media backlash

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding sacked a manager who allegedly sexually assaulted a female employee and will establish policies to prevent sexual harassment, Chief Executive Daniel Zhang said on Monday.

The manager – at Alibaba’s City Retail unit, which offers grocery delivery from local supermarkets – “has been fired and will never be rehired,” Zhang said in a memo published on Alibaba’s intranet and later made public.

The man told management there were “intimate acts” with the employee when she was intoxicated, Zhang said in the memo, adding that the police are¬†investigating the matter.

Over the weekend, a female staffer posted an 11-page account on Alibaba’s intranet in which she said her supervisor and a client sexually assaulted her while on a business trip, and that managers had failed to take action.

Threads related to the incident subsequently ranked among the top-trending on Weibo, China’s Twitter equivalent.

Zhang said the City Retail unit’s president and human resources head had resigned over the incident, and that Alibaba’s chief people officer has “received a demerit”.

Investigations into other individuals referred to in the victim’s account are ongoing, Zhang added in the memo.

Zhang also said Alibaba is opposed to “the ugly culture of forced drinking”.

“Regardless of gender, whether it is a request made by a customer or supervisor, our employees our empowered to reject it,” Zhang said in the memo.

“This incident is a humiliation for all Alibaba employees. We must rebuild, and we must change,” he said.


The woman alleged that her manager coerced her into travelling to the city of Jinan, which is around 900km from Alibaba’s head office in Hangzhou, for a meeting with a client.

She has accused her superiors of ordering her to drink alcohol with co-workers during dinner.

She said that on the evening of 27 July the client kissed her. She then recalls waking up in her hotel room the next day without her clothes on and with no memory of the night before.

The woman said she obtained surveillance camera footage that showed her manager had gone into her room four times during the evening.

After returning to Hangzhou, the woman said the incident was reported to Alibaba’s human resources (HR) department and senior management and that she had requested her boss be fired.

She said that human resources initially agreed to the request but took no further action.