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Chinese teacher fired after cat appears on camera in online class wins 'unfair dismissal' case

By Leanne Baldelovar Published Aug 22, 2022 5:32 pm

A Chinese teacher has won a lawsuit after her employer unfairly fired her for teaching an online class where her cat happened to appear on camera.

The art teacher who goes by the surnmae Luo, who hails from Guangdong province in southern China, was reportedly fired after holding a virtual class on June 5, where her pet cat appeared on camera five times.

While the local court didn't disclose whether the teacher noticed the cat, the students reportedly saw the feline according to a report by the South China Morning Post (SCMP).

Chinese radio station Guangzhou Daily reported that the education tech company that ran the classes fired Lou due to "non-teaching" activities during a lecture. They also cited that she was ten minutes late to a previous online lesson among the reasons for her dismissal.

Luo, who had been employed in the company since 2019, began working remotely from home teaching classes online using live-streaming due to the pandemic. The teacher had been told that before the cat cameo incident, the company was happy with her performance.

The teacher appealed the decision through arbitration. The court asked the company to compensate Lou for "unfair dismissal" after refusing the order.

The tribunal ruled that the cat’s appearance did not violate the teacher's employment contract or disrupt classes.

Judge Liao Yajing from the Guangzhou Tianhe People's Court said that employers could not to expect an office-like working environment while working from home.

"The employer's rules should not only comply with the laws but should also be fair and reasonable," the judge said.

Luo received compensation of around 41,236 yuan or P339,000 after the company illegally terminated her contract. 

The virtual mode has been the primary setup for classes in China for over a year amid lockdowns. Meanwhile, schools are set to reopen on Sept. 1 in Shanghai.