In 2009, Konami employee Yoko Sekiguchi sued her employer over being demoted shortly following her maternity leave. Back in October 2008, Sekiguchi took maternity leave and then returned the following spring to find that she was not only demoted due to her “burden” caused by by childbearing, but that she also received a pay cut of about 200,000 yen, which in USD is about 2,560.00 dollars.
Sekiguchi filed a lawsuit and sought to get 33 million yen, 422,000.00 USD, from the company in damages saying that “This is discrimination aimed at female employees who chose to take maternity leave.” She then added “I decided to take legal action because fellow female employees are experiencing the same type of treatment.”
On 27th December, 2011 it was revealed that the now former Konami employee won her legal duel with the game company. The Tokyo High Court ordered Konami to pay her 950,000 yen, 12,000.00 USD, in damages. “I want the company to be a place where people don’t have to chose between two alternatives: career or kids.” Sekiguchi said. On the flip side, Konami has stated that they had not yet seen the official ruling from the High Court and therefore would not comment on the case.
It seems that Konami is not the only company to demote or punish women workers for taking maternity leave. Reportedly, one of the reasons the birthrate in Japan is declining is that the corporate culture does not typically offer the same type of benefits that American companies do to allow women to have both a family and a career.