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Tokyo Disneyland employee awarded $7,100 in damages for poor working environment

"Cinderella Castle" is seen at Tokyo Disneyland in Urayasu, Chiba Prefecture, in this June 29, 2020, file photo. (Mainichi/Takehiko Onishi)

CHIBA -- A Tokyo Disneyland worker who filed a lawsuit against park operator Oriental Land Co. over power harassment she claimed she suffered from a boss and others was awarded damages of 880,000 yen (about $7,100) on March 29.

    The part-time employee, 41, performed in shows at Disneyland in the Chiba Prefecture city of Urayasu, near Tokyo, and filed a suit for 3.3 million yen (approx. $27,000) in damages against the Urayasu-based operator at the Chiba District Court.

    In the March 29 ruling, Presiding Judge Toshio Uchino pointed out the operator had neglected to make efforts such as improving the working environment, but did not recognize the behavior of the plaintiff's boss and others as power harassment.

    According to the complaint, the plaintiff was injured while wearing a mascot character costume to meet guests in January 2013 when a guest bent her right ring finger. When she tried to file for workers' compensation for the injury, her boss refused, telling her, "You're weak mentally." She claimed she was subject to such harassment for about five years.

    The court decided the company "neglected its obligations regarding safety by adjusting tasks depending on mental and physical conditions" on the grounds that the woman was isolated at the workplace and was performing in shows while suffering ill health. Though the ruling recognized the existence of some of the remarks she had claimed as power harassment, it stated, "They cannot be called illegal under social norms."

    The plaintiff said in a news conference after the ruling, "I want (Tokyo Disneyland) to be an environment where people can work in peace."

    Oriental Land's public relations department issued a statement, saying, "We will consider our response following examination of the ruling. We apologize for causing concern to everyone, including our guests."

    (Japanese original by Tatsuya Naganuma, Chiba Bureau)

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