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- 4 Apr 2010|
Are you a victim of 'power harassment'?Workplace bullying, or as it is commonly known in Japan, ‘power harassment’ (pawa-hara), is a theme that may come up in union consultations with members working in universities and schools in Japan.
What is Power Harassment?
It is the continued abuse of one's authority or position in the workplace to harm an individual either physically or mentally. To give a few examples: giving a quantity of work that is impossible to perform and then harassing the employee when it is not done; deliberately ignoring employees and not giving them any work to do; personal abuse and humiliation of the employee; sending instructions by email even when the employee is within talking distance; forcing employees to go drinking after work, etc.
Is it illegal?
We all know sexual harassment is illegal, but power harassment, depending on what happens, maybe too, and a damages suit can be brought against the perpetrator. Prosecution is also possible under a variety of sections of the Criminal Code, depending on the circumstances. Under the Civil Code, the employer can also be legally liable for not preventing Power Harassment in the workplace. The history of Power Harassment litigation is still relatively short, but to give one example, an employee won in the Supreme Court of Japan against his boss and company for forcing him to write out a copy of the Working Regulations (23 Feb 1996).
This is a special area of law and comes under 'Unfair Labour Practices' in the Trade Union Law, Article 7. Harassment of union members (and any attempt to damage the union) because of their membership in a union is illegal. Complaints can be filed at the Labour Commission.
Do you think this issue may be relevant to your workplace or to you personally? Before you start taking action on your own, a consultation with the General Union may help you map out a better strategy to deal with this issue.