Masaharu Hamada, the Olympus employee who won a Supreme Court ruling earlier this month against the company, says the abusive treatment he receives at work has not stopped. He won a lawsuit against his employer that declared the five years of being systematically ignored and demoted was illegal after he blew the whistle on complaints against the company. It was the first of any such case to make it as high as the Supreme Court, and it was the first time in Japan the court ruled in the whistleblower’s favor.
Despite the win in court, Hamada says he remains isolated in the office, and is not given any work to do. As part of the lawsuit, Olympus was ordered to pay Hamada 2.2 million yen (approx. $28,000) in compensation for the illegal demotion. While he has won that large amount of money, he chooses to stay with the company he still cares for. Koichi Kozen, Hamada’s lawyer, says they may have to file a second lawsuit, this time in violation of human rights. Hamada hoped to be transferred to a new department where he can be happy upon his return, but Kozen says there has yet to be any response.
Hamada’s outcast began when brought up complaints that Olympus was receiving from suppliers, as well as the professional behavior of other employees. This had him labeled as a “whistleblower” and subject to punishment for not being unquestioningly loyal. Other than the isolation, he was forced to take rudimentary tests, and do menial work like clean the bathrooms or mow the lawn. He had to withstand the harassment because the laws to protect those in his position require they still be employed by the company.
Tsuyoshi Oshima, an Olympus spokesman, says it takes time for the company to execute a transfer, and that they are working with Hamada to find the best position for him, however he declined to state any details. Hamada says his current section boss told him the situation was no longer his problem, and since he won in court, he shouldn’t be in that department anymore. Regardless of the continuing abuse, Hamada says he will not give up fighting, or else they have won. Someone has to stand up for the whistleblowers who will come next, he adds.