FYI: People working for American companies in Japan are covered by US Civil Rights Law


Handbook for Newcomers, Migrants, and Immigrants to Japan\Foreign Residents and Naturalized Citizens Association forming NGO\「ジャパニーズ・オンリー 小樽入浴拒否問題と人種差別」(明石書店)JAPANESE ONLY:  The Otaru Hot Springs Case and Racial Discrimination in Japan
Hi Blog.  Here’s a note on a subject that may help people working for American multinational companies.  They have double labor rights/civil rights protections — both American and Japanese.  And apparently the American government links to the civil rights authorities of other countries/unions like Canada and the EU.  More on the EEOC site.  Further, HANDBOOK FOR NEWCOMERS, MIGRANTS, AND IMMIGRANTS has been helping people define their terms and anchor their arguments.  Happy to hear.  Arudou Debito in Sapporo

Did you happen to know that U.S. civil rights law (equal employment opportunities, or EEO) applies to U.S. citizens working abroad for U.S. multinational companies?
under:  “Multinational Employers”

This is a heads up to the expat community.    Very few know that if they are working for the Japanese sub of an American company, and feel they are being discriminated or not given equal opportunities (based on a U.S. understanding of what that is!), they can go to the Equal Employment Opportunities Commission (EEOC) in the US.

EEOC Charge mediation is confidential.

Very few American-parent companies here tell their workers about the EEO coverage.   Basically, Congress wrote the law to hold the American parent liable for the activities of the overseas company that it controls.   So one possible remedy is filing an EEO complaint, which can be done over the internet.  Employers are supposed to tell the employees about these coverages and remedies — it says so in the 1964 act.

One thing that should also be pointed out is that there is a statute of limitations on EEOC charges.    Usually this is 300 days, but in some instances might only be 180 days.    It isn’t clear, though, that if the company does not NOTIFY you of the coverage, whether these limitations would apply.  So to be on the safe side, assume 180 days.

There is also a non-retaliation provision:   Form 5 information page states:
“Please notify EEOC or state and local agency where you filed your charge if retaliation is taken against you or others who oppose discrimination or cooperate in any investigation or lawsuit concerning this charge.   Under Section 704(a) of Title VII,  . . . [etc.], it is unlawful for an employer to discriminate against present or former employees or job applicants, for an employment agency to discriminate against anyone, or for a union to discriminate against its members or membership applicants, because they have opposed any practice made unlawful by the statutes, or because they have made a charge, testified, assisted or participated in any manner in an investigation, proceeding, or hearing under the laws . . . “
HANDBOOK has been very handy in explaining Japanese labor law, since it is not exactly the subject of substantial English-language literature in other countries or languages.   In addition, letting people around Japan know about the EEO coverage, it helps anyone who is caught in a similar bind.  Japanese labor law investigators don’t seem to be all that vigilant when it comes to foreigners — not only language barriers, but also a sense that the foreign person “really isn’t supposed to be here” in the first place.


10 comments on “FYI: People working for American companies in Japan are covered by US Civil Rights Law

  • Interesting. I wonder if this scenario would apply:

    I was at a Japanese job fair in the US, trying to interview for a US company’s Japanese division. They refused to take my application and resume since I was not Japanese, and clearly said this was the reason. Yes, I speak Japanese and had expertise specific to their industry.


  • yes this is true, because my wifes employers were trying to fire her because she was pregnet until i called the ethics department in NY, then once the news got back to the local osaka office they all got scared and heads started to roll, see these US laws also cover japanese that work for american companies in japan..

  • I am not sure that the U.S. civil rights laws also cover Japanese (since there are laws already covering Japanese). But for certain if the company had a policy not to discriminate against women who have children, then it’s embarrassing not to follow it.

    It sounds like the whole point is not to be afraid to ask for help from back home.

    With our military in partnership with Japan, you wouldn’t think we would have to fight those employment rights fights. But then, when Tamogami-san and his 78 subordinates are writing essays about how America started World War II, it does make you wonder.

  • That amazes me about the company that would not accept an application for a Japanese sub of an American multinational.

    One of President-elect Obama’s main themes in the campaign was “Stop Shipping American Jobs Overseas”, as evidenced by this ad:

    Imagine if people at home heard how tough it might be for the American to get the job even when it is overseas!

  • Mike,

    Not sure what you’re on about, but if you take a quick look through Japanese companys with offices overseas, you’ll find that most companys have Japanese CEO’s (Toyota CEO, Mr. Funo). Now when you look at foreign companys with offices in Japan, guess what, yes most are headed up by Japanese too (Goldman Sachs, Mr. Mochida).

    In Japan, Japanese language is essential, outside Japan, who cares?

  • By mutual treaty, it is OK for Japanese to only hire Japanese citizens for certain positions when doing business in America. Similarly, American companies in Japan are permitted by the same treaty to hire only Americans.

    But here, we are talking about American controlled companies with foreign local management (company is American, local management is not American) discriminating against Americans.

    Yes, it goes on all the time. No one knows the law.

    Yes, companies ask for Japanese fluency. Even the embassy. (Go speak to the workers there in Japanese and see what happens.)

    No one has bothered to challenged whether Japanese is requried, or PREFERRED, for these jobs. A job “requirement” that is meant to discriminate against a class of people will not be supported.

    Face facts: it is an issue here because no one has made it an issue for the last seventeen years. American companies should not discriminate against Americans overseas. Not accepting applications or giving different “terms and conditions” is discrimination. Never mind the fact that it is illegal under local law.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>