Japan: Pub chain Watami reaches settlement over case of worker suicide

watami credit_kyodo

The pub chain Watami has reached a settlement with the family of a woman who had committed suicide in 2008, two months after starting work with the company. She had worked over 140 hours of overtime per month during those two months, including work she needed to take home. Under the terms of the settlement, Watami will pay JPY 150 million (approximately USD 1.3 million), which is significantly more than the usual level and, unusually, includes punitive damages. The company will also provide a full, public apology, and take measures to prevent overwork related suicides in the future, including stricter controls on overtime. Watami will also pay all employees who joined the company between 2008 and 2012 a one-off payment of JPY 25,000 (approximately USD USD 220) for unpaid overtime. In July 2009, the Yokohama Labour Standards Office had initially refused to recognise the worker's suicide as work related. This decision was overturned on administrative appeal in February 2012, leading eventually to the court case.

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Article
10 December 2015

Japan: Pub chain Watami, founder settle suit over suicide of overworked staffer

Author: Jiji, Kyodo

... Mina Mori, 26, killed herself in June 2008, two months after beginning work with the company. She was forced to work long shifts until the early hours and often then hung around until the first train. Her overtime was found to be in excess of 140 hours a month.... Mori was assigned to an eatery where shifts would begin in the afternoon and last more than 10 hours. This became her daily routine. Coming off shift in the early hours, Mori had missed the last train home, and since the company would not pay for a taxi, she would often wait at the workplace overnight. Even during holidays, Mori was required to take training sessions early in the morning and would spend long hours preparing daily reports or memorizing the company’s credo, created by Watanabe. In May, a month after being hired, Mori left a note: “My body hurts. I feel exhausted. I feel emotionally numb. I can’t move as fast as I want to. Please help me, somebody help me,” she wrote.

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Author: 東京新聞

ワタミグループの居酒屋「和民」で働いていた森美菜さん=当時(26)=を過労自殺で亡くした遺族が、ワタミや創業者の渡辺美樹参院議員(自民)らに一億五千万円の損害賠償を求めた訴訟は八日、東京地裁で和解が成立した。「長時間労働を強いられ、心理的、身体的負荷を受けた結果で業務が原因」として、ワタミや渡辺氏らが計一億三千万円の賠償金を支払い、法的責任を認めて謝罪する内容。原告側代理人弁護士らが同日会見し、明らかにした。森さんの自殺をきっかけに、過酷な労働条件に注目が集まり、ワタミは「ブラック企業」との強い批判を浴びた。弁護団によると、和解条項では、渡辺氏の法的責任について「創業者が長らく代表取締役を務め、形成した理念に基づき、従業員に過重な労働を強いた。渡辺氏は最も重大な損害賠償責任を負う」ことを確認した。賠償額のうち四千万円は慰謝料で、弁護団は「同種の事案としては高額で、懲罰的な意味合いが込められている。実質的勝訴だ」と評価した。和解条項では、実際の労働時間を機械などで正確に記録し、就業時間との相違を生じさせないことなど、長時間労働の再発防止策も盛り込まれた。

(原文より引用)

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