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Konami Loses Lawsuit Over Maternity Leave Discrimination
Konami Loses Lawsuit Over Maternity Leave Discrimination
December 27, 2011 | By Eric Caoili

The Tokyo High Court has ruled in favor of ex-Konami Digital Entertainment worker Yoko Sekiguchi, who sued her former employer over alleged maternity leave discrimination.

Sekiguchi filed her lawsuit against the Metal Gear developer/publisher in 2009, claiming Konami demoted her and cut her salary by 200,000 ($2,000 at the time) after she returned from her six-month maternity leave earlier in the year.

Konami purportedly blamed Sekiguchi's childrearing "burden" for its actions. Japanese law currently allows mothers to take up to 14 weeks of paid maternity leave (at a 60 percent salary) and up to one year of unpaid maternity leave.

"This is discrimination aimed at female employees who chose to take maternity leave," said Sekiguchi two years ago. "I decided to take legal action because fellow female employees are experiencing the same type of treatment."

Though the court has ruled in Sekiguchi's favor, it has only ordered the Tokyo-headquartered game company to pay 950,000 ($12,000) in damages -- a fraction of the 33 million yen (US$422,000) she was seeking from Konami.

"I want the company to be a place where people don't have to chose between two alternatives: career or kids," said Sekiguchi, according to a report from Japanese daily newspaper Asahi translated by Kotaku.

During her time at the company, Sekiguchi negotiated licensing deals for the popular Pro Evolution Soccer/Winning Eleven franchise at Konami.

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Christopher Enderle
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Sounds like Konami only ended up having to pay the difference from her pay cut. I wonder how much legal costs were and who ultimately had to pay the bill on this 2 year case. Unless that cost was in the hundreds of thousands it seems like Konami has more incentive to just deny maternity benefits to everyone and only pay out to those few people who are able and willing to sue, just so they can sit on the money they would have ended up paying out anyway for a couple more years.

Also seems kind of ironic that Konami's business practices hurt the growth of a key video game demographic. They should give employees bonuses for having kids.

Anna Tito
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Sigh! Really! These sorts of actions only make the gender imbalance in the game industry worse.