Tokyo High Court Punishes Konami for Maternity Leave Discrimination

The Tokyo High Court has ruled in favor of an ex-Konami Digital Entertainment employee who sued the company for discriminating against her. Yoko Sekiguchi alleged that Konami demoted her because she took six months of maternity leave in 2009 and slashed her salary by ¥200,000. The demotion and pay cut happened when she returned from her maternity leave, she claimed.

According to the plaintiff Konami blamed Sekiguchi's "childrearing burden" for its actions. Japanese law allows mothers to take up to 14 weeks of paid maternity leave (at a 60 percent salary) and up to one year of unpaid maternity leave.

"This is discrimination aimed at female employees who chose to take maternity leave," said Sekiguchi two years ago. "I decided to take legal action because fellow female employees are experiencing the same type of treatment."

While Sekiguchi won the court battle, the company was ordered to pay ¥950,000 ($12,000) in damages – Sekiguchi was seeking ¥33 million yen ($422,000) in her lawsuit.

"I want the company to be a place where people don't have to choose between two alternatives: career or kids," said Sekiguchi, according to a report from Japanese daily newspaper Asahi – as translated by Kotaku.

While at the company, Sekiguchi negotiated various licensing deals for the Pro Evolution Soccer/Winning Eleven franchise.

Source: Gamasutra

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  1. 0
    MechaCrash says:

    The company has to pay enough that they actually notice it, though. If the penalty amount could be dismissed as a rounding error, they're not going to miss the money and not likely to give a damn.

  2. 0
    Truec says:

    Bad press and incrementing penalties for repeated offenses aren't incentives?

    And it's absurdly inflated multimillion dollar awards for imagined damages that lead to the culture of lawsuit worship all too common in America.  Was this woman wronged?  Yes.  Did she deserve monetary compensation?  Yes.  Did she deserve millions of dollars?  Hell no.

  3. 0
    axiomatic says:

    Here's how you fix it.

    Hey Konami. I refuse to buy any more of your products until you start treating your female employees fairly regarding their maternity leave. It's your move.

  4. 0
    Shahab says:

    Except that if you don’t the companies have no incentive to change their behavior. $12,000 is not much weighed against the savings of doing this to every woman who takes maternity leave AND the women who avoid getting pregnant to avoid similar discrimination.
    Most people won’t go through the hassle of a lawsuit against their own employer over these things. So if they do this to enough women while also being able to discourage legally allowed maternity leave, they still save more money over all. I would not be surprised if they continue this behavior. If the Japanese court had awarded a larger amount Konami would have a real incentive not to do this again.

  5. 0
    Truec says:

    Well, while I'm glad she won the suit, I'm also glad to see that Japanese courts aren't nearly so free to give away the losing party's money compared to American courts.

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