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Ukrainian woman sues Japan firm after allegedly being called 'trash,' 'stray dog'

The Ukrainian plaintiff, center, enters the Nara District Court in the city of Nara on Sept. 9, 2022. (Mainichi/Yuhi Yoshikawa)

NARA -- A Ukrainian woman in Japan who says she suffered depression from her boss's power harassment, including being called "trash" and other names, filed a lawsuit against the firm on Sept. 9, seeking 5.5 million yen (about $39,000) in damages.

    The woman, who worked at the Nara office of Tokyo-based Akagi Helicopter Co. claims that no measures were taken after she developed depression.

    According to her complaint and other sources, the 27-year-old woman, who lives in Nara Prefecture in western Japan, signed a one-year employment contract starting in 2018, and had been working at the Nara office's maintenance section. She had been in charge of material procurement, including overseas transactions.

    The woman alleges there were severe human rights violations, including being subjected to power harassment from her superior -- the section chief in charge of quality control -- since January 2020. He allegedly berated her work attitude, saying things including, "You're disgusting, like a stray dog," and, "You look like trash."

    The Ukrainian plaintiff, center, holds a press conference after filing a lawsuit, in the city of Nara on Sept. 9, 2022. (Mainichi/Yuhi Yoshikawa)

    When Russia began its invasion of Ukraine in February 2022, the woman had explained to the company that she wanted to avoid handling work related to Russia. According to the woman, any act including labor that benefits Russia's interests has been regarded as treason in Ukraine since March 2022, and she could face 15 years or more in prison upon returning to her home country.

    However, the section chief allegedly sent emails to the woman and her colleagues, calling her "a person picky about her job who insists on avoiding work relating to Russia." Regarding the Russian invasion, he even remarked, "Ukraine is also at fault."

    The woman says despite being diagnosed with depression in May 2021 due to the series of remarks by the section chief, the company did not take measures such as relocating her boss, and violated its safety obligations by failing to prevent daily power harassment.

    In response to the woman consulting an attorney about the power harassment, the company allegedly refused to renew her contract in June 2022. Because of this, the woman additionally filed a provisional disposition with the Nara District Court in August seeking confirmation of her position within the company.

    Akagi Helicopter said it has entrusted a lawyer to handle the matter.

    (Japanese original by Takeshi Kawabata and Yuhi Yoshikawa, Nara Bureau)

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