Thu | Aug 13, 2020

Court in Japan hears paternity leave dismissal case

Published:Wednesday | October 9, 2019 | 10:56 AM
Canadian Glen Wood arrives at the Tokyo District Court Wednesday, October 9, 2019. (AP Photo/Yuri Kageyama)

TOKYO (AP) — A Tokyo court held a hearing Wednesday into the case of a former brokerage manager who says he was forced from his job for taking paternity leave.

Canadian Glen Wood wants to get back his former position of equity sales manager at brokerage giant Mitsubishi UFJ Morgan Stanley.

He sued the company last year, alleging he was harassed and forced from his job after taking a legally allowed paternity leave when his son was born in 2015.

The company denies he was harassed.

Wood, 49, has lived in Japan for more than three decades.

The company dismissed him last year.

Wednesday’s hearing at Tokyo District Court included testimony from two company employees Wood alleges were involved in harassing him.

Akihiro Kiyomi, Wood’s former boss, and Chiharu Abe, who took over Wood’s job at the company, said they reduced his workload after his child was born because they thought he needed to take it easy as a single father.

But they acknowledged they had not consulted with Wood and appeared not to know Wood had hired full-time help or even that the child was born in Nepal, not Canada or Japan.

Wood also testified. 

“My dream vanished. Suddenly my boss changed, and he shut me out,” Wood told the court.

He applied for paternity leave, but the company refused to give it.

Wood’s son was born prematurely, and the doctors told him the boy may die, so he just rushed to see him, he said.

Woods returned several months later in March 2016.

He said his bosses took away chunks of his former assignments, stripped him of responsibilities like organising events for clients and overseas travel and ended strategising meetings he had run.

“I was being called useless, that I couldn’t be trusted, that I was unreliable. My life turned into hell,” Wood told the panel of three judges.

Wood’s case has drawn considerable attention and an online petition has drawn thousands of signatures backing him.

More than a dozen supporters showed up outside the court on Wednesday, some holding signs saying, “Zero tolerance for workplace harassment in Japan.”

The likely timing of a decision on Wood’s case is uncertain.

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