A news report emerged in the Turkish media earlier this week that Toyota's Turkish branch discriminated against employees -- the majority of whom fast during the holy month of Ramadan -- and then sacked 143 employees because of their religion.
The former general manager of Toyota's Boshoku factory, which produces supply materials for Toyota vehicles, said in a letter he sent to the Star daily that he was laid off simply because he performed his religious duties. “I was banned from attending the Friday prayer. I was accused of being a member of an Islamic terrorist organization just because I was praying,” he was quoted as saying by Star, which did not reveal his name.
In response to the accusations, Toyota released a press statement on Tuesday in which it said that due to the Japanese earthquake and the tsunami last year as well as the global economic crisis, vehicle production has decreased. The statement added that Toyota used to produce 177,000 automobiles in Turkey and that this number dropped to 89,000 in 2011 and is expected to decrease further to 62,000 by the end of this year.
The Japanese company explained that these negative developments have had a financial effect on the company and that as a result they have had to lay off 143 employees based on their annual performance, not the employees' religious beliefs or practices.
Toyota also vehemently denied claims that it asks employees about their religious beliefs and practices in job interviews and added that their Turkish branch has three prayer rooms that are open 24 hours a day and that meal times are arranged with respect to prayer times and fasting schedules.
Furthermore, parliamentary Human Rights Commission head Ayhan Sefer Üstün wrote a letter to Toyota Motor Corp. President Akio Toyoda in which he thanked Toyota for its contribution to the Turkish economy, but raised concerns about the allegations of discrimination. Üstün stressed that these claims could damage the reputation of the company and requested the company's board investigate them.