The labor ministry on Friday made public the name of a dermatology clinic in Ibaraki Prefecture that it says defied numerous instructions not to dismiss an employee on the grounds of her pregnancy.
Ushiku Hifuka Iin (Ushiku Dermatology Clinic), located in the city of Ushiku, became the nation’s first institution to be publicly named as a violator of Article 9 of the Equal Employment Opportunities Law, which bans employers from acts of “maternity harassment,” or firing or demoting employees due to pregnancy or childbirth.
The policy of naming and shaming the law’s violators has been in place since April 2009, a ministry official said, noting it will continue to urge the clinic to comply with the law.
According to the ministry, the dermatology clinic, run by Dr. Isamu Yasuraoka, dismissed a full-time employee working as a nursing assistant after the woman became pregnant earlier this year.
The Ibaraki Labor Bureau received her complaint and urged the clinic to rescind the action, first verbally in March, then twice in writing later in March and in May.
When that failed to elicit a response, the Health, Labor and Welfare Ministry itself issued a formal letter in July urging the clinic to rectify the situation.
The clinic ignored the communications from the labor bureau and the ministry, finally telling a ministry official who called the clinic that it had “no intention of following” the instruction.
Phone calls to the clinic went unanswered Friday, with a recorded message saying it has been closed due to the ill health of its director, and that it remains unclear when the practice will resume.
According to a 2014 online survey by the Japanese Trade Union Confederation (better known as Rengo), of 634 female workers across the country in their 20s, 30s and 40s, 26.3 percent of respondents said they had experienced maternity harassment, while 27.3 percent said they knew victims of this type of harassment in their workplaces.
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