Japanese automaker Toyota Motor Corp has reached a settlement with the family of an engineer whose suicide was ruled a job-related death due to harassment from his boss.
Toyota vowed to crack down on harassment in the workplace to ensure employees’ safety and expressed deep remorse, “facing up with true sincerity to the fact that a precious worker’s life was lost.”
The engineer, then 28, was repeatedly ridiculed by his boss, prevented from taking days off and told to die. His suicide in 2017 was ruled by a regional labor bureau as a job-related death in 2019, entitling his family to compensation. His name has been withheld due to privacy concerns, standard in Japan.
To prevent future harassment, Toyota would improve workers’ healthcare, better evaluate management, educate workers and encourage a workplace culture where employees can speak up, the company said in a statement yesterday.
“Toyota promises to work on developing people who, each and every one, can take an interest in those around them, under our stance that power harassment should never be tolerated,” it said.
Yoshihide Tachino, the attorney for the victim and his family, said Toyota was responsible for mismanagement in allowing the harassment to continue.
The amount of compensation the family is to receive was not disclosed.
Tachino said the settlement includes the preventive measures promised by Toyota, as well as a thorough investigation into the death.
Toyota president Akio Toyoda met with the family of the deceased and promised to bring about change, but the company needs to be monitored to make workplace culture changes, Tachino said.
“We believe that the legacy of efforts to curtail power harassment pays respect to his tragic death, which came too soon at 28, although nothing will ever be enough,” he said.
The case has drawn attention as highlighting a common problem in workaholic Japan, where such abuse often goes unchecked or undetected.
The family said in a statement that their son would not return, despite the compensation.
“My heart still aches over what has happened to my beloved son. And when I think of him, all I want is to have him back,” the statement said.
Complaints in Japan about various kinds of workplace abuse, including sexual harassment and problems over parental leave, have climbed to about 88,000 cases a year, more than tripling in the past 15 years.
They have been widespread, involving the police force, schools and judo athletes, as well as various companies.
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