Bar association supports woman’s claim that prefecture denied her promotions due to gender

A bar association here has found the Gunma Prefectural Government’s reluctance to promote a female employee to a higher position to be discriminatory and made a request to the government office to improve its promotion practices.

The request was made Thursday by the human-rights committee of the Gunma Bar Association.

According to the committee, it received a complaint from a 58-year-old woman who works at the prefectural office claiming that she was being held at the position of section chief, a position below the level of assistant division manager, because of gender discrimination at work. The committee proceeded to investigate the job promotion situation among men and women aged between 50 and 60 at that prefectural office.

The results of the investigation found that as of April 1, 2008, 84.9 percent of male employees at the office were at the assistant division manager level or higher, in contrast to 44.1 percent of female employees.

The committee also quoted the woman as saying that her boss at the division she had belonged to for four years from fiscal 2004 told her he had suggested to the personnel division that they promote her for her good work performance.

The committee believes that the personnel division’s treatment of the woman should be considered as a human rights violation, but their request for improved practices is not legally binding.

“There is no gender discrimination in our promotion system. We evaluate employees’ abilities in a comprehensive manner,” a personnel division official at the prefectural office says. “The reality is that there is a limit to how many versatile, experienced female employees there are at that (woman’s) age.”

It is unusual for a municipal government to be accused of denying an employee’s promotion on the basis of sex.