More than 8,000 employees of Toshiba's US business have joined together to file a $100 million lawsuit against the Japanese electronics giant for its alleged discriminatory practices against female employees in the workplace.
The employees are alleging disparities in pay and promotion as compared to male employees, and other unfair practices. The lawsuit was filed against Toshiba America Inc. The plaintiffs claim that the company failed to pay women equal salaries and bonuses, compared to men who performed the same kinds of duties. Besides, according to the lawsuit, the company segregates women into lower-level positions. Male employees at the company have an advantage when it comes to promotions. The lawsuit seeks class-action status for the lawsuit, which includes more than 8,000 female Toshiba employees.
For California employment lawyers, this lawsuit seems to have some reflections of the broader gender disparity and workplace discrimination issues that can be seen in Toshiba's home country, Japan. In that country, labor discrepancies between the genders are much broader than in the US. In the US, for instance, women's wages constitute about 80% of male wages, according to statistics for 2008. In Japan, women's wages are just 68% of the wages of men in the same year. The Japanese Ministry of Health Labor and Welfare blames these disparities on the fact that there are far fewer women employees in executive/middle manager positions in Japan. According to a 2009 survey, just 1.2% of executives at listed Japanese firms are female, compared to 13.5% at American Fortune 500 firms.
There are a whole range of social reasons for this gender-based disparity in pay and promotions in Japan. More relevantly for California employment lawyers, however, Toshiba needs to address whether its gender-based labor issues in Japan are being reflected in its US business too.