‘Maternity harassment’ verdict benefits women, men — and our humanity

Last Thursday’s Supreme Court verdict in the “maternity harassment” case brought by a physical therapist in Hiroshima was the first of its kind, overturning decades of business-friendly jurisprudence along with rulings from the district and high courts.

As I mentioned in last year’s September Labor Pains (“Mata-hara: turning the clock back on women’s rights”), the word mata-hara is short for maternity harassment, just as seku-hara and pawa-hara refer to sexual harassment and power harassment, respectively. Maternity harassment means workplace discrimination against pregnant or childbearing women, including dismissal, contract nonrenewal and wage cuts.

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Matahara: turning the clock back on women’s rights

SOURCE: NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF POPULATION AND SOCIAL SECURITY RESEARCH 14TH CHILDBIRTH TREND STUDY (2011); GRAPHIC BY TIM O'BREE
SOURCE: NATIONAL INSTITUTE OF POPULATION AND SOCIAL SECURITY RESEARCH 14TH CHILDBIRTH TREND STUDY (2011); GRAPHIC BY TIM O’BREE

Matahara: turning the clock back on women’s rights
Maternity harassment‘ concept coined amid reports of bullying over pregnancy at work
BY HIFUMI OKUNUKI

“When I told my company I was pregnant, they fired me.”
“I was delighted to be hired by a company I loved. Then my boss made me promise not to get pregnant for a while.”

In last October’s Labor Pains, I discussed maternal job rights in “Labor law protects expectant and new mothers — to a point.” Today, I would like to address a new legal concept known as “maternity harassment,” or matahara, in the syllabic acronym engendered by this growing — and disturbing — trend.

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Labor law protects expectant and new mothers — to a point

http://www.japantimes.co.jp/text/fl20121016lp.html   Tuesday, Oct. 16, 2012 By HIFUMI OKUNUKI I had a labor consultation with a woman who said: “The other day I told my company I was pregnant. My boss asked me to quit because the firm can’t afford to give me time off. One of my coworkers once resigned before giving birth but … Read more