Namyang Dairy Products, a domestic milk products maker, is now under a special labor inspection by the Ministry of Employment and Labor, following allegations that the company discriminated against its female workers in the personnel affairs department as well as coerced them to sign documents promising that they would not get pregnant.
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Minister of Employment and Labor An Kyung-duk, left, speaks during a National Assembly audit on the ministry, Thursday. Joint Press Corps

Namyang Dairy Products, a domestic milk products maker, is now under a special labor inspection by the Ministry of Employment and Labor, following allegations that the company discriminated against its female workers in the personnel affairs department as well as coerced them to sign documents promising that they would not get pregnant.

During a National Assembly audit, Thursday, Labor Minister An Kyung-duk said that the ministry is inspecting Namyang over these allegations.

“The ministry will conduct interviews and a survey of all the employees of Namyang Dairy,” An said.

The allegations became public after a former Namyang Dairy employee, surnamed Choi, claimed during an Oct. 6 Assembly audit session that she was sidelined from her job and transferred from the Seoul headquarters to a logistics center in another province after taking her maternity leave, and that the company in the past coerced female employees “to sign documents promising they would not get pregnant.”

After the testimony, Namyang Dairy released a statement denying all the allegations. “The claim is groundless and false,” the statement read. “The employee was already listed for a transfer before she took her maternity leave and those facts were already recognized by a high court. The case is now at the Supreme Court following her appeal.”

Minister of Employment and Labor An Kyung-duk, left, speaks during a National Assembly audit on the ministry, Thursday. Joint Press Corps
Namyang Dairy Products Chairman Hong Won-sik speaks during a National Assembly audit, Thursday. Joint Press Corps


Namyang Dairy Products Chairman Hong Won-sik also claimed during Thursday’s audit, “There have been no disadvantages given to employees taking parental leaves and there were no such documents coercing employees to give up pregnancy.”

But another document from Namyang Dairy’s personnel affairs department showed that, when the company assessed female part-time secretaries, it evaluated “how polite one’s behavior and language are” and “how ‘healthy’ one’s personal life is.”

A company official told a local broadcaster that they made subjective evaluations for these categories by checking whether the secretaries often have phone calls with men, whether their breath smells of alcohol or whether they give off the strong scent of perfume.

The investigation comes as the latest blow to the milk product giant, which has been crumbling due to a series of controversial acts of managerial wrongdoing, including an attempt to manipulate its stock price with false reports exaggerating the health effects of its yogurt drink in preventing COVID-19.

Wisconsin dairy farmers are reporting notifications from some cooperatives and milk buyers that new ‘market adjustments’ will be deducted from their milk checks.

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