A Vietnamese-American man who worked for an Orange County-based toymaker is suing his former employer, alleging his Japanese supervisors fired him because of his nationality.
Tony Le’s Los Angeles Superior Court lawsuit names Cypress-based toymaker Bandai America Inc., Bandai Namco Holdings USA Inc. and several of his former bosses and seeks unspecified compensatory and punitive damages.
The suit’s allegations included discrimination, harassment and retaliation on the basis of race and national origin; failure to prevent discrimination; wrongful termination; failure to promote and negligent hiring and supervision.
A Bandai representative did not immediately respond to an email seeking comment.
According to the complaint, Le began working with Bandai as a senior business analyst in June 2010. He spent four years as the company’s senior manager for financial planning and analysis and “was a top performer for Bandai with proven track record,” his suit states.
However, shortly after being hired, Le alleges he noticed a continuing “pattern and practice of disparate treatment” against non-Japanese employees.
Le and other employees who were not Japanese were subjected to verbal abuse in Japanese, condescending gestures and “obscene laughter,” the suit alleges.
In 2013, Bandai’s former CEO, Matsuo Masayaka, told Le, “All you Americans are so stupid and don’t know how to run a business”; “If I could I would fire all the Americans”; and “Japan should have bombed Pearl Harbor again,” the suit alleges.
Other supervisors told Le he was a “stupid American” for enrolling in USC’s MBA program, according to his lawsuit.
Le claims he was denied access to important company information, making it more difficult for him to perform his job. He alleges he also was excluded from company meetings and dinners in which only Japanese employees were invited.
The company gave preferential treatment to Japanese employees when granting promotions and fired those who were not Japanese more often, according to the lawsuit.
Le says he complained about his treatment to the company’s human resources department, but was told to “remain silent” and discouraged from filing a complaint.
The head of Bandai’s legal team also was Japanese, creating a “clear conflict of interest” and leaving Le with no place to “voice or channel his concerns without fear of retaliation” and instead “making it a complete farce,” the suit alleges.
In March 2014, Le says he was told that his position was eliminated, even though he was the only employee in the Bandai finance department and performing a necessary role in the company.
“It is clear that “(Bandai’s) decision was motivated by unlawful and discriminatory motives, and unfortunately, led to Mr. Le’s termination,” the suit alleges.
—City News Service
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