Toyota reaches settlement over bullied engineer's suicide

FILE - In this Aug. 4, 2017, file photo, Toyota Motor Corp. President Akio Toyoda answers a question during a joint press conference with Mazda Motor Corp. President Masamichi Kogai in Tokyo. A suicide by a Toyota engineer that was ruled by Japanese authorities as a power harassment case has reached a settlement, the automaker said Monday, June 7, 2021. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko, File)
FILE - In this Aug. 4, 2017, file photo, Toyota Motor Corp. President Akio Toyoda answers a question during a joint press conference with Mazda Motor Corp. President Masamichi Kogai in Tokyo. A suicide by a Toyota engineer that was ruled by Japanese authorities as a power harassment case has reached a settlement, the automaker said Monday, June 7, 2021. (AP Photo/Eugene Hoshiko, File) (Copyright 2017 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.)

TOKYO – Japanese automaker Toyota 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 Motor Corp. 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 will improve workers' health care, better evaluate management, educate workers and encourage a workplace culture where employees can speak up, the company said in a statement Monday.

“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.

The attorney for the victim and his family, Yoshihide Tachino, said Toyota was responsible for mismanagement in allowing the harassment to continue. The amount of compensation the family will receive was not disclosed.

He stressed the settlement includes the preventive measures promised by Toyota as well as a thorough investigation into the death. Company 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.