Taipei City’s Department of Labor Affairs yesterday fined Japan Airlines’ (JAL) Taiwan branch NT$600,000 for age discrimination in the workplace.
The fine stemmed from a layoff in July of 70 Taiwanese flight attendants, including 18 senior employees who were close to retirement — a move that violated the Employment Services Act (就業服務法), the department said.
“Japan Airlines fully realized that the employees were senior members with excellent performance records and higher salaries. The move to lay off senior workers was an act of age discrimination,” commissioner of the department Chen Yeh-shin (陳業鑫) said.
The employees who were laid off have protested against their dismissal and filed a complaint with the department in August, accusing the airline of workplace discrimination.
The employees said that while JAL had cited financial difficulties as the reason, the layoff targeted people who were Taiwanese or female, and the Taiwanese flight attendants were soon replaced by Japanese.
The layoff was made after the airline announced a restructuring plan that included a 30 percent cut in its global workforce and additional financing to stay afloat after filing for bankruptcy protection in January.
The Taipei City Employment Discrimination Review Committee held three negotiation sessions to resolve the dispute, but the airline failed to provide solid evidence to support its claim that the decision was made after careful evaluation of cost and individual workers’ performance, Chen said.
“Some of the flight attendants who were laid off had received awards for their excellent performance. The airline’s argument that age was not a factor behind the decision to lay them off was not convincing,” he said.
In response, JAL said the company followed labor regulations when sending out layoff notifications to employees, adding that it would not change its layoff policy.