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Friday, Feb. 8, 2008

JAL to pay ¥48 million in employee-data suit

Staff writer

Japan Airlines Corp. agreed Thursday to pay ¥48 million in compensation to 194 former and current flight attendants who alleged that JAL, its largest labor union and five of the union's executives illegally collected and managed private information on them.

In the opening session of the suit before the Tokyo District Court, JAL agreed to pay all compensation demanded to settle the dispute.

The airline, however, insisted that its decision to pay did not constitute an admission of guilt to all charges leveled by the plaintiffs, including JAL's organized involvement in collecting private information.

"It is obvious that the new dispute between labor and management would damage the trust of the society and our customers," JAL said in a written statement. "The company believes such a situation should be avoided by any means."

JAL's promise to pay covers the compensation demanded from the union, its executives and the company.

But the union, the Japan Airlines Worker's Union, and its executives, however, refused to join in paying the compensation, and the lawsuit against those parties will continue, the plaintiffs' lawyers said.

The plaintiffs alleged that JAL and the union systematically collected about 150 items of private information on 9,000 crew members, including their personal beliefs, family backgrounds and medical histories.

During Thursday's session, one of the plaintiffs claimed files included remarks such as "(Her) husband is Indian, the worst."

"Obviously this is racial discrimination. . . . I could not help but think that the JAL considers racial discrimination good," she said.

The data collection was first revealed by media reports last February, prompting JAL to punish 25 employees involved by suspending, reprimanding or cautioning them.

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The Japan Times

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