NIO Announces Findings of Sexual Assault Investigation
On March 20, Chinese leading electric vehicle maker NIO released a report on its internal investigation regarding the dismissal of a former intern who claimed to have been sexually assaulted and subjected to unfair treatment while employed at the company.
According to the report, the intern could not be retained due to a lack of vacancies among the team. NIO confirmed that the intern’s work performance during the internship was recognized by her colleagues and supervisors.
On March 3, the former intern alleged on a Chinese social media platform that she was subjected to an attempted rape by her NIO colleague surnamed Xu. Although Xu was sentenced to 10 months in prison, the intern was deemed a “risk factor” and considered to have the potential to harm the company’s reputation by NIO‘s human resources staff, resulting in her dismissal. This incident became a trending topic on major social media platforms, prompting questions and concerns about NIO‘s corporate culture and values.
On the same day, NIO issued a statement declaring that it is currently investigating its internship retention process, particularly regarding whether the former female intern had been subject to unfair treatment in the process.
On March 5, the former intern expressed her disappointment with NIO‘s response and posted additional details about the incident, including a timeline, refutations to the company’s claims, and evidence including chat screenshots, photos of her internship certificate, and criminal judgment photos.
On March 13, the former intern stated that NIO had not issued an apology or promised any corrective measures. She reportedly only wished for more companies to prioritize workplace sexual harassment and create a safer and more equitable work environment.
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Despite NIO‘s recent statement that it had established an anti-sexual harassment team and partnered with a law firm to address employee complaints, netizens ridiculed the response. Some argued that the company’s public relations team was ineffective, and others believed that the former intern was unfairly labeled a high-risk employee after reporting the incident. Additionally, some questioned why NIO hired the intern for several months if there were no vacancies and caused her to miss a valuable job search opportunity as a fresh graduate.
According to a lawyer interviewed by media outlet The Paper, the current legal focus of the issue is whether the reasons for the intern’s dismissal are justifiable and lawful. If there is evidence that company personnel labeled the intern as a “risk factor” and claimed that she “harmed the company’s image,” it could be considered the primary reason for her dismissal. However, even with evidence, it may be difficult to legally hold the company accountable.