©The Japan Times
Tokyo, Japan

November 16, 1997

Employer flaunts labor laws

My Japanese employer recently fired me without notice, citing my alleged violation of a rule (which I have never seen and still do not know). He also accused me of “causing damage to the firm,” although he has yet to elucidate as to what exactly this damage is.

Only two weeks prior to this, he failed to pay me my summer bonus and asked me to be patient with him, as the firm had experienced severe losses due to the actions of some of my Japanese colleagues (I was the only fulltime non-Japanese employee of the firm) I reluctantly agreed in order to help the firm.

After he fired me, he sent a document to my home by fax accusing me of some imagined act of violence as the reason for my dismissal, then refused to speak to me or to supply the necessary termination documents for almost a month. When this document was finally supplied, the stated reason for separation was that I had quit, thereby denying me unemployment benefits.

I have taken both of these documents to a lawyer, who assured me that either the Labor Administration Office or the Labor Standards Inspection Office would help me out. I then explained the matter to government workers at both offices, but after they tried to investigate, I was told that my ex-employer has refused to allow them access to his offices or records, and that he refuses to pay me the mandatory 30 days salary for separation without notice unless he is ordered to do so by a judge. His accountant has repeatedly agreed to change my termination document so that I can receive unemployment benefits, but after more than two months, nothing concrete has been done.

I have met with my ex-employer twice, once at the LSI offices to try to resolve the dispute, but he was overbearing, aggressive and arrogant toward both me and the government worker present. After the meeting, the government worker, who was visibly intimidated by my ex-employers’ actions, told me that even though it appears that my former boss is in violation of the labor laws, there is nothing that can be done short of going to trial. Due to his actions, my financial situation is very weak and I don’t see how I can possible pay for a lawyer. When I was fired, he told me that he would make certain that I would never work in Japan again, and during my subsequent job search I have learned that he is actually disparaging me to prospective employers in my field, in effect obstructing my search for gainful employment.

During the many years that I have worked here, I never had experienced this sort of thing and I was ill-prepared to defend myself. If anyone reading this letter has had a similar experience and can advise me as what to do, I would greatly appreciate it if you write a letter to this column. My family is Japanese, and it would be a great hardship for all of us if I have to return to my home country now.