Filipino journalist wins illegal termination lawsuit against Japan’s Fuji TV

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The Philippine Court of Appeals has ordered Fuji TV, Japan’s largest commercial television network, to reinstate and pay the back wages of a Filipino news producer after the court judged that she was illegally terminated by the network after she was diagnosed with cancer four years ago. The back wages and damages amount to $158,000 (roughly PHP6.5 milion).

Fuji Television Network

The court ruled that Tokyo-based Fuji Television Network Inc. should reinstate journalist Arlene Samson-Espiritu and pay her moral and exemplary damages, in addition to her back wages, after a three-year legal battle. The appeals court also scrapped the motion for reconsideration filed by Fuji TV.

Arlene, now cancer-free, poses with husband Reggie Espiritu
Arlene, now cancer-free, poses with husband
Reggie Espiritu
Four years ago, Fuji TV Manila bureau chief Yoshiko Aoki allegedly forced Espiritu to resign immediately after finding out that the Filipino producer had lung cancer. The court judged this act of forcing Espiritu to resign as tantamount to illegal dismissal. “Since Fuji TV did not observe due process in severing the employment of Espiritu, we hold that she was illegally dismissed,” the court stated in its 16-page decision, written by Associate Justice Edwin Sorongon. The decision also stated, “Under Philippine disability laws, cancer patients are considered disabled persons who have the right to equal opportunity for employment and their dismissal or termination from work due to their illness alone is discrimination of employment.”

This decision was a reversal of an earlier ruling of the Philippine National Labor Relations Commission that was favorable to the Japanese network. The court then ordered Fuji TV to pay complainant-appellant back wages computed from the date of her illegal dismissal until the court issued its final decision, in addition to the complainant being entitled to moral and exemplary damages.--Source: The Japan Daily News


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