[McDonald’s manager Hiroshi Takano] became especially busy after being transferred to an outlet in Higashi-Matsuyama in July 2004. He had no permanent staff working under him, and was in sole charge of operations there. A worker he trusted moved to a different outlet in December that year, leaving Takano to take on a number of extra duties.
Throughout that month, Takano, went into work just after 6 a.m. every day to take charge of preparing food and serving customers. Although he could take the odd nap and eat lunch, he also had to train part-time workers and deal with the takings, meaning that he was working daily until about midnight.
Working conditions also were tough at his current outlet in Kumagaya in the prefecture after he moved there in February 2005. One part-time worker was admitted to hospital for exhaustion due to overwork, and Takano often had to work to cover staff shortages.
Takano had to answer to a consultant, who issued instructions on managing outlets, and a general manager, who was in overall control. They constantly made demands, such as asking Takano to reduce personnel costs.
Takano began to feel his hands going numb and a doctor warned him that he was a candidate for a stroke.
Takano began to feel that his life was in danger.
However, no company labor union existed at the time, and so Takano joined a union for managers in the Tokyo area in May 2005.
He filed the lawsuit against the company that December.
The lawsuit was one factor that prompted the establishment of a McDonald’s labor union–one that managers of outlets could also join.
“It wasn’t about money. [Takano] wanted the hardships in the working conditions of managers to be recognized. It was almost a complete victory,” his lawyer said. “This is the first ruling that clearly shows the work of outlet managers across the country isn’t management work at all.”