Gender Equality

Tokyo Court Rules on Gender Discrimination in Housing Benefits

Main image to the post Tokyo Court Rules on Gender Discrimination in Housing Benefits

Tokyo Court Rules on Gender Discrimination in Housing Benefits

The Tokyo District Court ruled on May 13 that a housing benefit program offered by AGC Green-Tech Co., a subsidiary of major glass manufacturer AGC Inc., constituted "indirect discrimination" on the basis of gender. The program, which provided career-track employees with up to 80% of their rent covered, was deemed discriminatory because it was only available to a limited group of employees, the majority of whom were male.

The court ordered AGC Green-Tech to pay approximately 3.78 million yen (roughly $24,000) in damages to the plaintiff, a female employee who was denied access to the generous rent allowance. This ruling marks the first court decision in Japan to recognize indirect discrimination based on gender.

The plaintiff, a 44-year-old woman, had been working for AGC Green-Tech since 2008 as a regular employee. Despite her years of service and consistent performance, she was only receiving a monthly housing allowance of under 20,000 yen (about $120) because she was not classified as a career-track worker.

The court found that the disparity in the financial benefits of the rent allowance was "quite large" and that the program effectively discriminated against women. While the company argued that the program was only available to career-track employees due to the possibility of transfers, the court found no rational reason for this limitation.

This landmark ruling has significant implications for addressing gender discrimination in the workplace. It provides a legal precedent for recognizing indirect discrimination and opens the way for correcting similar discriminatory practices against women.

Both the plaintiff and her attorney expressed hope that this ruling will encourage other companies to review their policies and ensure equal access to benefits for all employees, regardless of gender.

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May 21, 2023 | 05:09