Jessie Tayama, Migrant Desk (Jesuit Social center)
On July 25th 2011 a Filipino lady ANGEL (anonymous) send an email to me regarding her unpaid salaries from March to July 2011, she works in the weekends in a pub. It happened on the day that was our monthly free legal consultation and Lawyer Suzuki Masako from Tokyo Public Law Office came to our center. On behalf of ANGEL, I consulted Lawyer Suzuki and her advice was to seek the Labor Office for help since the amount was small (164,000 yen) and it was not appropriate to hire a lawyer to handle this case which will cost 3 times more for the lawyer fees.
July 27th 2011, we started to seek help from the Labor Office. At that time Mr. Charles Alvarez from New York (Columbia Law School) who was on internship with Tokyo Public Lawyer office acted as our interpreter and it was a great help to us too, since we have no knowledge about the Japanese labor office law and how to proceed. From our center we have to prepare and compile all the required documents and to translate some of the documents to Japanese for submission.
From July 29th till September 30th there were many phone calls made by the Labor officer, letters were sent out and even the Labor officers visited the pub twice. The Mama-san and her Manager made all sort of excuses: they were not in or too busy for an interview or to negotiate. Even when the Labor Office intervened it was without success and the Labor officer suggested us to bring the matter to court.
October 7th, the case was filed in court. The first hearing started on November 24th for negotiation and Fr. Ando from our center acted as interpreter.
January 13th, 2012 second hearing the Mama-san got scolded by the judge because of unreasonable deduction of the employee salaries. When he commented that there is no such thing as employer is higher than employee, it should be equality in both ways. I was really impressed with the Japanese judge who handled the matter on that day very well especially when foreigners are involved.
February 28th third hearing and March 15th fourth hearing, on both occasions neither Mama-san or her Manager turned up at court. The court postponed the case twice April 25th and May 21st.
May 28th consulted Lawyer Suzuki again and she made a phone call to the court secretary to expedite the case since it was long overdue, and the next court hearing was set on August 30th .
Finally on August 30th, 2012 the judge presented the verdict and the employee ANGEL (anonymous) won the case.