Zeria Pharmaceutical Employee's Death Was 'Job-Related'

Published: Aug 14, 2017

Zeria Pharmaceutical Employee's Death Was 'Job-Related' August 9, 2017
By Alex Keown, BioSpace.com Breaking News Staff

TOKYO – The family of a 22-year-old Zeria Pharmaceutical employee who took his own life during a training session program at the company has filed a lawsuit seeking $954,000 in compensation.

According to reports in the Japanese media, the victim was compelled to reveal sensitive and personal information about his history of being bullied as part of a “confessions” exercise during the training program. The “confessions” session left the young man in a serious state of depression that led to his suicide, the family said, according to a report in The Japan Times. The family is alleging the consulting agency that led the exercise, along with the instructor, are at fault for the May 2013 suicide.

Reports show that the young man joined Zeria as a sales associate in April 2013. During the training session, which was run by Business Grand Works Inc., he developed depression and took his own life on his way home from the program, the family said, according to the lawsuit.

The program that is at the center of the controversy was designed to have participants confess their weaknesses and worries. The family’s lawyer said during the training exercise the instructor “told the man that he stammered and made him confess his experience of being bullied in the past,” The Japan Times said.

“The man submitted a report in which he wrote that he was very shocked that his peers now knew something he wanted to be kept secret. The instructor returned the report to the man with a written message, telling him to ‘wake up,’” according to the report.

According to The Asahi Shimbun, an Asian news group, the training instructor wrote down feedback that was called denigrating. Some of the phrases written on the young sales associate’s report sheets included the phrases “Stop thinking stupid stuff,” “When will you stop being so arrogant?” and “Wake up!”

In addition to the suppressed bullying issue, the man’s family also claims that their son worked more than 100 hours of overtime during the month he committed suicide.

The case has been recognized by Japanese authorities as a work-related death due to the link between the training exercise and the suicide.

For its part, Zeria Pharmaceutical has not commented about the case. According to the news report, the company has been running similar training programs for about 40 years and this was the first time such a thing happened to the company’s knowledge. The consulting agency also said it does not “force trainees to confess sensitive matters and that it is not liable for damages,” The Japan Times said.

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