Racism Paying White/Black Teachers Full Pay, But 75% for "Asian-looking" Native English Teachers

Hi,
I have an APRC and am an Australian citizen. I am Asian-Australian. I’ve been living in Taiwan for a number of years, because I actually liked it here, but now I’ve faced a problem that is really bothering me.

I wanted to apply for a job recently to supplement my income, and I applied for this company that facilitates home-tutoring of English in Taiwan.

They showed me their policies, including a video presentation about pay. Several times they explicitly mention that Foreigners who are Black or Caucasian (i.e. White) get paid a certain amount, while Foreigners who have an Asian look or of Asian descent get paid 75% of the amount that others get. I have downloaded their videos, and messages about this policy.

They claim that all Taiwanese parents expect to pay more for White/Black teachers, and will pay less for Asian-looking Foreign teachers, even if those teachers are native speakers of English from Australia, US, UK, etc. I was shocked and I mentioned to them that I’m Australian, highly educated, and actually graduated from top global universities from Australia and UK and I double checked what pay they would give me, but they said that they will only pay me 75% because of my Asian ethnicity.

I actually don’t believe that ALL Taiwanese parents are as discriminatory as this company claims because I’ve taught at Cram Schools where I was respected and paid the same amount as other English teachers from US/UK/Australia, regardless of my ethnicity.

Also, I don’t think that this company should be the one to decide whether ALL parents in Taiwan will pay a lower amount to teachers, just based on the color of their skin, even when they are native English speakers. They’ve institutionalized the racism, made is systemic and I think this is illegal.

So, I feel very uncomfortable about the hiring practices and racial discrimination at this, and I do not accept that this kind of systemic racism should be a part of Taiwan. This company is actually all over Taiwan, and I’d like to stop this.

Does anyone know what I can do to resolve this issue?

I’ve thought of some options, but I’m open to what others think:

  1. Contact Taiwan Labour Department and report this company.
  2. Look for a Pro-Bono work discrimination organization that can help me with this matter.
  3. Contact a Law firm that works on a contingency fee (so they only pay if the case wins in court)… I don’t know if any firm like this exists for this matter
  4. Contact the Australian Embassy for help with this matter

What do you think?

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Australia Office cannot do anything its a civil matter.

Thanks… Seems like the case you linked to is similar to mine, and the course of action for me is to contact the Labor Affairs Department.

I’ve seen this first-hand where Asians are considered less desirable. It’s a real shame. I’d love to see things change even though it benefits me as a white guy. Don’t expect to make any money by exposing this group. If you want to go to war I suggest you prepare yourself for an uphill climb. In the end, I doubt the companies will change until the population changes. They will just more careful with their language when hiring people.

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It really depends how much you want to invest your time into this. Taiwan has been like this for a long time but is slowly changing and improving. You said you have an APRC so you would know this full well and perhaps have seen other cases.

I’ll be honest though. My daughter is in Australia at the moment. I want her to learn Chinese as it is her heritage (her mother being Taiwanese). When looking for tutors I am looking for Asian faced. Why? You may ask… Well because that is the type of person I can picture speaking fluent native Chinese. Flip the narrative and I can see why parents (and schools) in Taiwan see it the same way… Also why hire you when they could hire another Asian face on a local salary who speaks the same? See where I am going with this? It is also a marketing tool for the school.

You can certainly take this to the labor department… but without any concrete evidence they won’t bother (and perhaps staff will even agree with the school). So take that evidence that you have and see where it goes. No need to hire a lawyer unless the school appeals. Also remember that recording conversations that you’re involved in is LEGAL so you can purchase a recording device, go to a meeting and record it and then use that as evidence for your case.

No but as you may know a big deal of them are. One of my friends at his school has a Filipino colleague who speaks very clearly etc… But many parents are complaining and asking if the school can hire an American, Australian, Brit etc. instead for the next year and he was asking if I could replace him. This is the parents committee of a public school in Taiwan and they have pushed the school to actually not renew his contract even though they have no replacement.

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Thanks for your level-headed response. Really appreciate it. Helped a lot for me to think more clearly about it.

A lawsuit is not worth it. Seriously.

If you don’t like the school, go work for another school. There are plenty of schools who will pay you the same regardless of your ethnicity.

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Thanks… yeah I think you’re right. I think I was just really angry and wanted to at least complain somewhere. Just not used to it because in Australia, that kind of thing wouldn’t really fly for sure.

I think filing complaint at Labor Affairs is best option.

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Yes, instead Australia just took all the land from the natives who they call blackies . A little bit ironic but hey you did try to compare to Australia. I mean Queensland…jeez.

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That’s very true…so i probably should not have compared…

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Australia was fueled by convicts from Ireland and UK and free settlers from other European countries.

It wasn’t that far to get to never never land. Just a short sailing trip to another land where you will soon be free.

BOAT PEOPLE

Do they take any out for speaking with an Aussie accent?

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Therein lie the seeds of the predicament: discrimination is baked into the whole process. Varieties of English abound. Also, job adverts sometimes stipulate a preference for female teachers.

This is par for the course in this particular sector. Thats why your previous employers were so brazen about it. You could fight it, personal payoff is doubtful, though future generations will thank you. Or you could acknowledge the times foreign nationality has worked in your favour, and roll with it.

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If it makes the OP feel better, the pay for teaching English hasn’t gone up at all over the last 20 years.

You’re still getting around 600-700 an hour back then, as well as today. While wage for service sector jobs have gone up a LOT more. Restaurants are offering more than 200 an hour now. 20 years ago service job was 65nt an hour and had stuck there for 10 years.

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The additional irony, is that being white doesn’t necessarily mean you speak English well.

I recall a German telling me his experience getting a job. The cram school approached him enthusiastically to teach English, and he replied “But my accent is not good!”, and they replied “No problem!”. Then he replied “But my vocabulary is not good!”, and they replied “No problem! Just please work for us! We want to hire you!”. And that’s how he, who has poor English, became an English teacher in Taiwan.

A lot of people see how English is spoken on TV by white people, then assume that all white people speak English. When in fact, it’s possible to be white and not speak English well. e.g. you might only know Italian.

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It’s better not to fight with schools over such things. It’s a cultural issue more than being a labor issue. Society is obsessed with the idea of their children being taught by a white person irrespective of what actually they are being taught. I being an Asian once got a job in a cram school just because “I looked white enough” and just had to lie to the parents that I am an American.
Luckily not all schools are like that and with some search it’s possible to find a workplace which doesn’t discriminate like that.

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The only Chinese teacher I’ve ever had that actually taught me anything useful was white. Why? You may ask… Well, because someone who learned the language in adulthood has a way better idea of how to teach second language learners than someone who grew up speaking it.

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Think of it as a tax to discourage Asian-Americans from pursuing careers that won’t please their parents.

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A friend of mine’s girlfriend started Teachers Against Discrimination in Taiwan (TADIT) many years ago. She took a school court and won (it was actually a former employer of mine). Here’s their blog. It has a lot of info on it but hasn’t been active for over 10 years. They also have Facebook.

https://taditaiwan.wordpress.com/

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He’s Australian.