Just the other day, I was giving you folks an update on the IBM Japan matter. If you notice, I rarely get comments along the lines of say, debito.org, but occasionally I do. So I allow a certain leeway that the commenter can have his or her opinion, as long as its all civil. Because of the nature of my topics, most of the comments I get come to my e-mail account. This is because it’s the kind of question or comment that goes to things like a personal situation. I do not like to talk about people’s personal stuff over the internet, and I do not like to bicker over the internet. So that is kind of the style of the blog, and has been for eight years.
So the other day, I get this comment that comes along, from “Charlie”, like this. He starts off with a here’s-where-you-blew-it! and then doesn’t even have the facts. And that whole first paragraph just sounds like a blowhard.
In some fantasy world, there are “Japanese litigators” who will go to bat for you all the way. But good luck finding one. Most bengoshi I met are in it for the money. Even the kinder-hearted ones like Hou Terasu, they want to charge you. And you better not have a complicated case. Or one where the other side can make it a complicated case, by starting the Japanese version of “well, you see this and then, this, and then mistakes and misunderstandings, and, then that . . .”
Charlie brings up the union(s), as if I don’t already know all the key players in the Tokyo foreigner unions, as well as a few regular Japanese ones. It doesn’t go like how Charlie says. The union really exists for its own membership, not to be a cheap legal service. I have blogged about this previously, but apparently Charlie does not read me every day.
The union does not want your employment dispute–even for a 10% cut of any settlement and access to their labor attorney–unless it means that you are going to go into your company and organize. Yes, for a Japanese person, they can often become same-day union members and get sympathy, and the ability to pressure a company to pay settlement money. I saw this first hand with my predecessor in the Cognos job. But this hardly ever happens with the foreigner community, and, if it did, you’d be seeing it broadcasted all over the expat internet sites. So here, Charlie is just full of shit.
I know of one case that happened like Charlie said, at Goldman Sachs, where there was a settlement. But the thing that flipped the company was that it was pre-Lehman Shock, and the employee had dirt about something GS was doing. So, you see, it is never as easy or cut-and-dry as Charlie suggests. But his post was written as if he had all the answers and I was this buffoon, so there you go.
In the second part here, Charlie does have the law right, 100% right. But it’s not crazy, in a country that does not have “at will” employment, that employees have a right in their job, and a right to a job with an employer. I think most of the developed world has some kind of employment standard like that.
So what is crazy is the fact that America continues with an at-will standard, when most other countries appreciate that the worker, in a weaker bargaining position, is entitled to some protection.
And then in the final part of the comment, the cynicism comes out. Charlie suggests that the people who Google his comment (as if I don’t have the right to moderate it) should find a Japanese attorney who cannot speak English (yes, that’s what he said) to help you, as foreign person, to get justice in the Japanese system. He also suggests that you “pretend” that you want to keep your job, because presumably this will up the big pile of dough the company is going to pay you, foreigner, as a settlement for you to give up your right to the position.
Totally lost in Charlie’s comment is the fact that the IBM Japan matter is a United States Title VII discrimination case. The Japanese law claim is a joinder to that.