Toyota apologizes to family of employee who committed suicide due to overwork
After settling a lawsuit that blamed Toyota for the suicide of one of its employees in Japan due to overwork and harassment, the company's President Akio Toyoda has apologized to the family. The lawsuit filed by the worker’s family had sought 123 million yen ($1.1 million) in damages but the actual settlement amount has not been disclosed, Japanese media reported.
Along with apologizing to the family for its sufferings, the automaker also promised an investigation into the case to prevent such a recurrence in the future. "We are now trying to create a more transparent workplace environment that makes it easier for people to speak up, as well as a management that’s free of power harassment, so that each and every employee can work without fear," the company said in a statement.
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In September last year, the Nagoya High Court in Japan ruled that the employee's death was caused due to over-working, noting that he suffered severe stress at work before committing a suicide in 2010. The automaker had initially contested the allegations made by the employee's family.
This is not the first work-related suicide case at Toyota that has come to the limelight. In 2019, the company acknowledged that a 2017 suicide of a 28-year-old engineer was caused by constant ridicule from his boss. In Japan, deaths from overwork and on-the-job stress, including suicides, are a common problem due to the workaholic culture in the country.
The issue of having troubles with abusive bosses in the country has been gaining attention lately. Workers in Japan are reputed to be extremely loyal to their companies, often sacrificing their personal and mental well-being for work and putting in enormous amounts of overtime as well as taking pride in being part of a company.
The country's government received 2,835 complaints of deaths from overwork, or “karoshi," in 2020 while compensation was paid in more than 800 cases, which included suicides.
(with inputs from AP)