Japan lawsuit challenges paternity leave stigma



He sits in an workplace of a significant Japanese sportswear maker but reports to no a single. He is assigned odd tasks like translating into English the manual on organization guidelines, like policies on vacations and everyday hours, although he has minimal foreign language abilities.

He was sidelined, he says, as retribution for taking paternity leaves just after each and every of his two sons was born. Now he’s the plaintiff in a single of the 1st lawsuits in Japan more than “pata-hara,” or paternity harassment, as it is identified right here. The 1st hearing is scheduled for this week.

His case is uncommon in a nation that values loyalty to the organization, extended hours, and foregone vacations, particularly from male personnel. He asked not to be named for worry of additional retribution.

The man, whose sons are now four and 1, was initially assigned to a sales-promoting section at Asics, exactly where he rubbed shoulders with athletes, but was all of a sudden sent to a warehouse just after his 1st paternity leave in 2015, according to his lawsuit. Right after he hurt his shoulder, he was assigned to the section he is in now, exactly where he says he is forced to sit and do tiny.

He desires his original assignment back and four.four million yen ($41,000) in damages.

Asics mentioned it plans to fight the allegations in court, adding that it was “regrettable” no agreement could be reached in spite of repeated efforts.

“Our organization remains committed to pushing diversity, and we program to foster a perform atmosphere and assistance method so all workers can keep productive throughout pregnancy, childbirth, and kid-rearing,” it mentioned in a statement.

Makoto Yoshida, professor of social research at Ritsumeikan University, believes acceptance of paternity leave will take decades in Japan mainly because it goes to the heart of corporate culture, which contains not getting capable to refuse transfers.

“A boss is apt to consider a worker who requires paternity leave is useless. The boss is probably never ever to have taken paternity leave himself,” Mr. Yoshida mentioned. “And after an workplace sees a worker having undesirable therapy for taking paternity leave, no a single else is going to want to do it.”

Japanese law guarantees each males and females up to a single year leave from perform just after a kid is born. Parents are not assured spend from their organizations, but are eligible for government help whilst off.

Lots of workers do not take the allocated paid vacations or parental leaves. Only six% of eligible fathers take paternity leave, according to government information. Much more than 80% of operating females take maternity leave, even though that is just after about half quit to get married or have a infant.

When organizations are encouraged to market parental leave, and lots of have expressed their assistance for taking time off to raise households, critics say the directives are not trickling down to personnel on the ground.

Japan’s government, concerned about the drastically declining birthrate, amongst the lowest in the globe, is even contemplating producing parental leave mandatory.

In the United States, federal laws do not assure paid parental leave, but lots of organizations present such positive aspects. European nations differ, but most present some variety of government-backed paid paternity leave. Sweden and other Scandinavian nations boast the finest record for supporting parents. Canada also has a comparatively generous method for paid parental leave.

Other organizations in Japan – a subsidiary of significant electronics organization NEC Corp. and chemical maker Kaneka Corp. – have lately been accused of paternity harassment. They deny the allegations.

The case having the most consideration is that of Glen Wood, a Canadian, who is fighting to get his brokerage manager job back at Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley.

Mr. Wood was nonetheless negotiating with his bosses to take 3 or 4 weeks of paternity leave when his son was born six weeks premature in Nepal. Mr. Wood says his bosses have been very reluctant to let him take time off, but he decided he had to go. The physicians told him he had to come straight away to see his infant in intensive care.

Mr. Wood returned to perform 5 months later, in March 2016, just after his son recovered and could be safely brought to Japan. But he was barraged with what he alleges is harassment at perform.

His job assignment was changed. He was chided for not displaying up at meetings he hadn’t been invited to. He was ordered to take DNA tests to prove he was genuinely the father, which he did, as nicely as psychiatric tests by two physicians, who each mentioned he was fine. He was dismissed final year.

“Anytime anyone puts up their hand and says they are harassed, essentially that individual becomes the weirdo, and that individual ends up having harassed,” Mr. Wood mentioned.

Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley denies any paternity harassment and has stressed it intends to fight the allegations in court.
Mr. Wood has gotten thousands of signatures on an on line petition expressing assistance for his case and opposing harassment, like comments from Japanese who mentioned they have been suffering related experiences, mainly fathers.

Taken off the profession track, the father who functions at Asics says he feels helpless. Nonetheless, he is proud of how he did all the cooking, cleaning, and grocery purchasing whilst he was on leave.

Naoto Sasayama, his lawyer, mentioned his client believes in standing up for what is proper.

“He was getting created an instance of,” Mr. Sasayama mentioned. “This case raises the significant query of no matter if a individual need to worth organization more than loved ones.”

This story was reported by the Linked Press.


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