Ms Kim (52) is a disabled person, having third class cerebral palsy. She holds a second class certificate as a formal librarian. She has been employed as a librarian with Pusan University since 1977, when she was taken on as a class nine librarian. Since then, she has worked on classifying, arranging and adjusting many books within Pusan University's library. In 1984 she was promoted to a seven class librarian and has since classified both normal and important material.
In February 2004, Ms Kim produced a petition which she presented to the president of Pusan University. Within the petition, Ms Kim details the discrimination she has faced as a disabled person working for the university. "I am a handicapped person. I have worked as a librarian in Pusan University since 1977. But I could not have been promoted for 20 years," Ms Kim notes.
In response to Ms Kim's petition, the president of the National Human Rights Commission (NHRC), Kim Chang-Guk, has recommended to the president of Pusan University to stop discrimination against Ms Kim and to make a non-discriminative provision within university guidelines regarding disabled persons in the service record and how to prevent discrimination against them.
In an investigation carried out by NHRC into Ms Kim's case, the NHRC found that out of 34 librarians at Pusan University, 11 librarians were a six class public servant when investigating in March 2004. It was further established that within the normal procedure of promotion, it takes 7 to 13 years for a seven class public servant to be promoted one level at Pusan University library. Other co-workers of her have been promoted as six class public servant 4 to 10 years ago. The only person not to be promoted during this period was Ms Kim, who in fact has not been promoted for 20 years.
The NHRC believes this to be blatant discrimination against a disabled person. It further believes that Ms Kim has had a good long term working career with the library and has conducted her work to a level equivalent to her co-workers. In fact her co-workers have commented that Ms Kim has a very good working ability. The NHRC claims that Ms Kim's supervisor, who supervised Ms Kim between 1999 and 2003, unfairly and continuously gave Ms Kim low marks, despite giving no reason for doing so.
The chairman of the Normal Promotion Investigation Committee, who was in charge of Ms Kim's promotion in 1999, asked the chief librarian why Ms Kim had received remarkably low marks despite her long serving career. The chief librarian replied that Ms Kim could not conduct six class public servant work because she has cerebral palsy. In 2000, even though Ms Kim was a priority to be promoted, commissioners submitted their opinion that they should consider the circumstances. As a result of this, her promotion was denied. The NHRC therefore believes that Ms Kim was unfairly treated and strongly disadvantaged due to her disability, despite her work record indicating that she was able to carry out her work fully.
Article 11 of constitutional law says that all people should not be discriminated in any sector. In article 8 of welfare law, it states clearly that disabled persons have the right not to be discriminated against and it is the duty of others not to discriminate against disabled people. In order to realise the spirit of the law, the government has arranged an extension policy that allows for handicapped persons to be employed as public servants. The government has also sought to implement a system called the 'guideline for personal management of handicapped public servants', which endeavors to minismise and prevent discrimination against disabled persons in the workplace.
However, in order to make this system a reality and remove all forms of discrimination against handicapped persons in the society of public office, much more needs to be done than just the implementation of systematic measures.
The NHRC recommended to the president of Pusan University that discrimination, such as that that occurred against Ms Kim, must be prevented and that a separate clause must be enacted into the University's guidelines, which strictly forbids any form of discrimination against all people, including those with a disability.
SOURCE: National Human Rights Commission of Korea (visit)
Translated by Moon Jeong-ho, Edited by Kate Hurst
Posted on 2004-11-19