Business

Transgender worker sues Yakult group after being forced to come out

Kyodo

A company employee who adopted a female name due to gender identity disorder has filed a damages suit against a subsidiary of beverage maker Yakult Honsha Co., claiming she was forced to come out and suffered depression.

The employee in her 40s is seeking ¥3.3 million in compensation in the suit filed with the Nagoya District Court on Tuesday.

Officials from the Aichi Prefecture-based Yakult factory will reveal the company’s stance in court.

According to the claim, the worker was diagnosed with gender identity disorder in January 2014 and adopted a female name that May following approval by a family court.

The worker asked the company to change her health insurance card, while wishing to continue using her former male name in the office. She also asked the company to allow her to use a locker room separate from one used by male workers.

But the company changed the worker’s name on her name tag to the female name without consultation. In exchange for offering her a locker room used by executives, the company forced her to come out in front of her colleagues.

The worker was compelled to explain her condition three times in morning meetings, saying, “I am causing trouble to everyone due to treatment of my gender identity disorder. I appreciate your understanding and cooperation.”

After explaining her situation in front of about 70 colleagues, her supervisor also told other workers and in the end about 140 people came to know about it.

“I hope the working environment of people who want to change his or her gender improves for the better,” she told a news conference.

Yoichi Iwai, a lawyer representing the employee, said he hoped the case raised awareness that there was not enough consideration given to the working environment of sexual minorities.