• Kyodo

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The Sapporo District Court ordered Nippon Telegraph and Telephone Corp. on Friday to pay a combined 3 million yen in damages to five employees in Hokkaido who were relocated against their will after refusing to retire under the telephone giant’s massive restructuring program in 2002.

Presiding Judge Katsuhiko Kasai said, “Each relocation is an abuse of the authority over personnel issues.” The five had sued the company, seeking 3 million yen each.

The court ordered 1 million yen in damages for one employee who was relocated outside Hokkaido and 500,000 yen for each of the other four, who were moved elsewhere within the prefecture. It is the first court decision in a number of similar lawsuits filed across the country against NTT in 2002.

NTT launched the restructuring program, affecting more than 100,000 employees, in May 2002. Employees aged 51 or older, mostly at NTT’s two regional telephone carriers, NTT East and NTT West, were pressured into early retirement, according to the court. Those who accepted got retirement allowances and were rehired by NTT’s subsidiaries at much lower wages.

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