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HOME  > Past issues  > 2017 March 29 - April 4  > District court invalidates college decision to demote visually-impaired teacher to clerical worker
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2017 March 29 - April 4 [LABOR]

District court invalidates college decision to demote visually-impaired teacher to clerical worker

March 30, 2017
The Okayama District Court on March 28 issued a ruling invalidating a college’s demotion of a visually-impaired teacher to clerical worker on the grounds of her disability.

The lawsuit was filed by Yamaguchi Yukiko, associate professor at Okayama College in Okayama Prefecture. Yamaguchi has an incurable inherited disease. Her field of vision is gradually narrowing.

The ruling asserts that the college’s demotion order went far beyond the allowable exercise of discretion. In addition, the court stated that the employer failed to provide reasonable assistance to Yamaguchi and should consider taking support measures for her.

Until last year, with the college’s permission, the teacher had given lectures with the help from an assistant who Yamaguchi hired at her own expense.

In February 2016, however, Okayama College ordered Yamaguchi to stop teaching and instead to work as a clerical worker. The employer insisted that she is no longer capable to be a member of the faculty staff, citing an incident in which Yamaguchi failed to notice students eating and drinking in her class.

At a press conference held after the ruling, Yamaguchi said, “Education is my life’s work. I really appreciate the court recognition of me as a teacher.”

Lawyer Ogoda Makoto, who is blind and working to build a barrier-free society, commented on the ruling. He said that visually-impaired workers are often forced to accept unfair transfer orders. The lawyer hoped that the latest ruling will encourage those workers to fight to continue their current jobs with appropriate assistance.

Past related article:
> Citizens urge gov’t to ensure that visually impaired teachers can keep teaching [May 31, 2016]

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