Japanese man outed by boss wins massive settlement

Tokyo’s Ikebukuro district. Via Creative Commons

A former employee of a Japanese company has reached a rare settlement with the company. The man in question was outed as gay by his boss to his fellow employees, and claims he suffered discrimination by his co-workers as a result.

Neither the name of the former employee or the company have been released to the public. The Japanese Times, however, reports that the firm has pledged to pay damages to the employee under a new law banning LGBTQ discrimination in Japan. The law went into effect this past June.

According to the lawsuit, the man decided to come out to his boss when he joined the company last year. Soon after, co-workers began to avoid him, with one woman even quitting the company to do so. The man’s boss later revealed that he had outed the employee to his co-workers, saying “I thought there was no problem telling that to just one person.”

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As a result of the outing, the man in question–who is only in his 20s–claims he developed mental illness. After he filed his lawsuit, he coordinated with the company’s labor union and the company itself. Ultimately, the former employer took responsibility for the mental illness and issued an apology. It will also grant the man financial damages–a rarity in Japan.

Queer rights in Japan remain in a transitional state. Same-sex activity, adoption rights and the right of LGBTQ people to serve in the military all remain legal, though marriage equality and joint adoption rights do not. A recent survey showed that 25% of all queer Japanese people have experienced outing against their will.

“Society and our workplaces simply do not understand how outing is painful and harsh for us,” said the former employee of the case. “I’m happy if [my case] could provide an opportunity to eliminate outing from society and the workplace.”