SANTA ANA, Calif. (CN) – A salesman was fired for declining an order to “try out” a sex toy and write a report on it to prove he could work as hard as the Japanese, he claims in court.
Shogo Michael Umezu says he worked 12½ hour days without overtime pay for Imuraya USA, a “leading manufacturing company in Japan” founded in the 19th century, which makes “Japanese style confectioneries using Azuki red bean paste.” The workplace was rife with crude sexual comments from the company president and vice president, who sat by him at work, to which he fruitlessly objected, Umezu says.
President Carl Iwata and vice president Shin Imura “made it known to plaintiff that he was considered an inferior ‘American’ unless he could prove he was truly ‘Japanese” by demonstrating how long and hard he could work without complaint,” Umezu says in the Aug. 3 lawsuit in Orange County Court.
Umezu describes himself in the lawsuit as an American of Japanese descent. He says the harassment culminated in a meeting with Imura and a customer on July 20, 2014, when “the vice president gave to plaintiff a sex toy, a mechanical device that simulated a female’s sex organ, and ordered plaintiff to use it and make a report. Plaintiff informed the vice president that he had no use for it since he had a girlfriend. Both the vice president and the customer informed plaintiff that he had to use it and make a report if he wanted to be a salesman. Plaintiff refused and returned the sex toy to them.”
He filed a complaint with the state employment commission, got a right-to-sue letter, and was fired, Umezu says.
He seeks back pay and statutory and punitive damages for labor code violations, sexual harassment, national origin discrimination, constructive discharge, unfair business practices and breach of employment agreement.
Officials at Imuraya USA did not respond to a request for comment Wednesday.
Umezu is represented by Gene Shioda, who was not immediately available for comment.
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