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Tokyo court denies woman's harassment claim, orders her to pay company for defamation

A building in Tokyo's Chiyoda Ward where the Tokyo District Court and Tokyo High Court reside is seen in this May 10, 2019 file photo. (Mainichi/Kenji Yoneda)

TOKYO -- The Tokyo High Court on Nov. 28 scrapped a lower court ruling that had sided with a woman complaining of "maternity harassment" after an English school operator decided not to renew her contract, and ordered her to compensate the school for damaging its reputation.

The 38-year-old woman, who had worked as a full-time employee at Tokyo-based language school operator Japan Business Lab. Co., filed a lawsuit complaining of harassment after the company decided not to renew her contract in 2015. The woman had taken child care leave and returned to work as a contract staffer the year before.

The Tokyo District Court recognized the woman's claim that the firm lacked logical reasons for terminating her contract, and judged its action invalid. It accordingly ordered the firm to compensate her with unpaid salary.

But in the Nov. 28 high court ruling, Presiding Judge Jun Abe pointed out that the woman had recorded an exchange between her and her boss when the boss reprimanded her over work. The court said this was "an act destroying the relationship of mutual trust with her company," and that the firm "had logical reasons" not to renew her contract

The presiding judge also acknowledged the company's counterclaim that the woman's comments at a news conference hurt the company's reputation and ordered the woman to pay damages of 550,000 yen. In a news conference when she filed the lawsuit against the company, the woman had said her "integrity as a person was denied" after she had a child and went back to work. At the same time, the judge ordered the company to pay the woman some 50,000 yen in compensation for violating her privacy.

(Japanese original by Kenji Tatsumi, City News Department)

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