As Japanese camera and medical equipment makers Olympus still continue to struggle with restoring the company’s image recently ravaged by a corporate scandal in 2011, two more employee complainants have come out, saying that the company is not honoring what the Japanese Supreme Court has ordered them to do – which is to stop ostracizing them and restore them to their regular jobs. Over a year has passed since the Supreme Court decision, but Masaharu Hamada, and now Yoshihisa Ishikawa, are still fighting Olympus in court.
Hamada’s started his fight with Olympus in 2008, when he sued the camera makers for punishing and shaming him when he forwarded a supplier’s complaint to the management. The Supreme Court sided with Hamada in June last year, and he received 2 million yen (US$20,000) in damages. But more than a year has passed, and Hamada is looking for Olympus to put him back in his regular job, which has not happened. Instead, he was recently transferred to a position in quality training, an area in which he has no experience. Thus Hamada has taken to the Tokyo District Court yet again, demanding that Olympus obey the Supreme Court’s order and place him in his regular position overseeing corporate compliance. He is seeking 10 million yen (US$100,000) in damages. “Why should Olympus get away with this?” Hamada said.
Ishikawa, another Olympus employee, filed a labor lawsuit against the Tokyo-based corporation – demanding 8.8 million yen (US$88,000) in damages for psychological stress and harassment. – for sending him to work under Hamada. The lawsuit is not intended to be critical of Hamada, he said. He is suing because he was repeatedly pressured to resign, and Olympus never gave a reason why. Koichi Kozen, lawyer for both men, decries the measures that Japanese companies commonly use to deal with employees who go against a highly conformist corporate culture. Some companies make it a point to embarrass these people into quitting, Kozen said. Ishikawa is a talented engineer, with several patents to his name. He is not sure why he is being targeted, but he suspects it may be because he was outspoken and questioned the decisions of his boss. He agrees with Kozen in saying that the corporate culture at Olympus is highly conformist.
Olympus is still recovering from a scandal dealing with a higher-profile whistleblower in the case of former chief executive and British national Michael Woodford, who was terminated after he questioned dubious accounting processes at Olympus to cover up its losses. Woodford won a 1.2 billion yen (US$15.4 million) settlement from Olympus last year, suing for unlawful dismissal and discrimination. Earlier this year, Olympus executives were convicted in a Tokyo court for that same cover-up of losses. They were not incarcerated, but Olympus was fined 700 million yen (US$7 million).
[via Boston Herald]