Toshiba USA getting sued in Southern District of New York

So says the Japan Times via Kyodo and the AP.

I’ll have more about this one later today, but what it looks like is a gender discrimination suit where the plaintiff is going in as a class action. (That is why you see a number like $100 million attached to it. It’s hard to imagine how that could be personal damages for just one person.)

It sounds like the EEO is not involved with this one, which means that the plaintiff gave the EEO its 180 days to do an investigation, and then asked for her notice of rights.

Figures that it would be a Japanese company getting snagged on an issue like this. Somehow, I just don’t understand why Japanese companies can’t get better at bringing their management techniques up to either Western standards or 21st century ones.

Remember: most employment discrimination suits fail. It’s hard to prove you were wronged, and as we saw, it’s easy for companies–once the coast is clear—to say “mistake and misunderstanding”. You bet that that is exactly what Toshiba is going to do as it denies the complaint.

[More later.]

[Update: per my note to Chuckers below, the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York has imposed mandatory Alternative Dispute Resolution on employment discrimination cases brought in that district.

Effective January 3, 2011, all employment discrimination cases, except cases brought under the Fair Labor Standards Act of 1938, 29 U.S.C. 201 et seq., will be designated for automatic referral under the Court’s existing A.D.R. program of mediation.

Manhattan, the Bronx, and Westchester County generate a fair share of employment discrimination cases, being the headquarters locations of many larger companies.

It must be that the court administration got tired of big corporations just shutting down any attempts at early reconciliation, and so imposed ADR, which the big corporation legal departments can ignore at their own peril.

Likewise, ADR forces the employment discrimination cases that are simply being filed from turning into major headlines, (unless you are going to go the “class action” route.)

Somehow, it would not have been as exciting a headline for Kyodo or AP to report that “Employment Discrimination case against Toshiba USA goes to Alternative Dispute Resolution!”]

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5 comments

  1. chuckers · February 3, 2011

    Figures that it would be a Japanese company getting snagged on an issue like this.

    Bit of a loaded and biased statement to make….

    • hoofin · February 3, 2011

      No, it’s not. If you’ve read any number of EEO discrimination case opinions involving Japanese companies, the recurring tendency is that the management in the US brings over the, ehem, “cultural” practices that they got away with in Japan.

      In any number of these, the US plaintiff can’t be making this stuff up, because it’s extremely rare that the cases involve an aggrieved party who had spent any amount of time in Japan.

      The Japanese here just expect the law firms to get them off, and they say whatever they have to, to get that result.

      One point I mean to make at the top is that the class action part might have to do with the fact that the District Court for SDNY has, since 1/3/2011, imposed mandatory Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) in instances of employment discrimination litigation. It sounds like the lawyer for the plaintiff, knowing this, decided to advise the matter be a class action–if enough evidence can be shown that others were disciminated against by Toshiba.

  2. chuckers · February 3, 2011

    I just posted something that had a number of links in it. It might end up in you SPAM folder. Please take a look if it doesn’t show up in your moderation queue.

  3. k · February 5, 2011

    The Mitsubishi Motors plant in Bloomington IL lost a huge sex discrimination case a number of years ago, FWIW.

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