Suit Alleges Discrimination by Foreign-Owned, US-Based Company

January 24, 2005 ( - An unusual lawsuit alleging discrimination of white males by a US-based foreign-owned company has been filed in US District Court in Manhattan.

The case against Marubeni American Corp. – a subsidiary of a Japanese trading company – alleges the company officials discriminate against white men in their hiring practices, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Plaintiffs Kevin Long and Ludvic Presto, both white executives who are on paid leave, have sued the company, its CEO, CFO, and human resources chief and are seeking $4 million in severance payments, as well as pension benefits and $55 million in damages and legal costs.

Beyond the allegation of discrimination, the two executives allege that non-Asians are paid less and are hired and promoted less frequently than Asians. The company, which has 200 employees, has no African-American or female executives, and only three black employees.

Cited as evidence, according to the Journal, are numerous e-mails that. “We prefer male and 25-30 years [sic] old, Asian like Chinese, Japanese, of course American or others is fine,” said Yuji Takikawa, vice president of the US company’s textile unit. “As you know, in case of American guy, once reach high income, all of a sudden stop working. This is my feeling.”

“This is sort of a novel issue to us. We tend to see more of a reverse of this,” said Sarah Crawford, an employment-discrimination expert at the nonprofit, nonpartisan Lawyers Committee for Civil Rights Under Law, according to the Journal. “From what I’ve seen, it’s a growing concern because of the increasing presence of multinational corporations in this country.”

This is not the first time a Japanese-owned US-based company has been sued on such charges. In one case in 1980, 13 females sued Sumitomo Shoji America Inc, alleging it only hired male Japanese workers for management positions. The company claimed it was immune to the suit, according to the Journal, but in 1982 the Supreme Court that it wasn’t. In 1987, the company agreed to settle for over $2.6 million.