Patrick Budmar reports in the Japan Times.
I have been following the story because I have friends and associates who were part of the 2007 and 2008 work actions, one of whom was fired from Berlitz because she didn’t recover from breast cancer “fast enough”.
Budmar interviews at length two members of Begunto, which is what the Berlitz Union is known as. “Michael” asks:
On one hand, Michael remains perplexed by Berlitz’s decision to keep paying lawyers to wage a campaign that he believes has backfired disastrously on the company. On the other, after living through the past few tumultuous years, he has come to the stark conclusion that the company considers the cost, in both capital and prestige, a price worth paying.
“Berlitz has shown no willingness to do the right thing in the last three years, and I expect that trend to continue,” Michael says. “I would bet on Berlitz dragging this thing out as long as possible.”
To me, the Berlitz attorneys’ suing and extensive dragging out of the process is a form of punishment. It has nothing to do with finding the best result for the company and its employees, or the avenue that reduces risk to reputation or even that saves on the bottom line. Berlitz is just being nasty. Since corporations aren’t people, it means specific people within Berlitz who decided not to honor labor law, and be nasty.
For several years, I’ve wondered about this fact:
Two of the Begunto representatives sued by Berlitz in the original case were dismissed by the company in 2010. One was a U.S. Army reservist who was fired after being ordered back to Afghanistan; the other was denied an extension to unpaid leave while recovering from breast cancer.
On the reservist case, why is the United States government still doing business with Berlitz, and Benesse, the parent corporation? There’s a law called “USERRA” that is supposed to protect reservists who are called up. They aren’t supposed to lose their jobs.
[Update 9/7/12: I get some anonymous troll commentary, which now I’m just not going to let through at all. But to answer their observation that “United States law doesn’t apply in Japan”, I am going to refer them to 38 US Code section 4319, which is part of USERRA. A foreign company that is “controlled” by the US company has its parent company covered under USERRA.
Please do your homework ahead of trolling. It saves both you and me some time.]