KUMAMOTO, Japan - A Filipino technical intern in southwestern Japan will sue her employer and an intermediary body for around 5.7 million yen ($39,000) in damages after she allegedly suffered harassment in the workplace, including being forced to sign a form agreeing to return to her country, after becoming pregnant, sources close to the matter said Tuesday.
The law on equal opportunity employment for men and women, which also applies to foreign technical trainees, prohibits unfair treatment on the basis of an individual giving birth or becoming pregnant.
The 26-year-old woman, who consulted with a citizens' group in Kumamoto Prefecture, will file the lawsuit with the Yukuhashi branch of the Fukuoka District Court.
According to the complaint, the woman came to Japan in September 2019. When she informed the intermediary body in Oita Prefecture of her pregnancy in May 2021, she was told that she would "have to pay a fine and return to the Philippines."
The woman claims that at the end of May 2021, she was forced to sign a document agreeing to return to the Philippines. She also claims she was forced to express her intention of quitting the job when leaving Japan at the end of August that year, even though she had hoped to return upon taking maternity leave and giving birth in her country.
The woman is also demanding approximately 500,000 yen from her employer in Fukuoka Prefecture for three months worth of unpaid wages.
Both her employer and the intermediary body have declined to comment.
Japan established the technical internship program in 1993 to transfer knowledge and skills to developing countries, but the program has been criticized as providing cover for companies to import cheap labor from across Asia.