Thursday, June 28, 2001
Japanese Court rules in favor of
underpaid female married employees
A story published today by the Daily Yomiuri reports that
the Japanese Sumitomo Life Insurance Co. was ordered Wednesday to pay a total of 90
million yen to 12 women who claimed the firm had denied them salary raises and promotions
because they were married, while giving such benefits to single women who entered the firm
the same year.
In their suit, filed with the Osaka District Court, the
women demanded that the firm pay them a total of 320 million yen--the amount they said
they would have received had they been treated the same way as their unmarried colleagues
over the previous 13 years.
Judge Tetsuou Matsumoto agreed that Sumitomo Life had
discriminated against the women.
In the ruling, the judge stated that the company had a work
culture that did not welcome married female employees and that its managerial staff was
affected by this culture. He also pointed out that some forms of harassment against the
plaintiffs who continued working after they had married were confirmed.
The company, however, countered that it was unavoidable
that pay raises for married female employees should have been lower since their work
quality and quantity dropped when they take maternity and child-care leave.
The judge, however, maintained that negatively appraising
the job performance of the plaintiffs for taking such leave restricted the exercise of
rights approved by the Labor Standards Law and was therefore illegal.
They 12 women also filed a suit demanding that the central
government pay each of them 1 million yen in damages for refusing to mediate in the
dispute in accordance with the Equal Employment Opportunity Law.
Matsumoto, however, dismissed that suit.