Restaurant Sued Over Employee Suicide

Watami chain sued by employee's parents
Watami, a popular chain of Japanese restaurants, is being sued by the parents of a former employee.

A major Japanese restaurant chain found itself in the midst of a complicated lawsuit yesterday, when the parents of a former employee filed a suit over their daughter's death.

According to Mainichi, 26-year-old Mina Mori committed suicide in 2008, just two months after starting to work for Watami, a popular Japanese restaurant chain. She was a full-time employee at the chain, and her monthly overtime totaled around 141 hours, well over the national overtime limit of 80 hours a month. After two months at Watami, Mori killed herself by jumping off an apartment complex, having left a suicide note that said, "Please somebody help me."

Last year, a local Labor Standards Inspection Office ruled that Mori's suicide was a work-related accident, at which point Mori's parents asked the company to explain what caused their daughter's suicide and what steps the company would take to prevent that sort of tragedy from happening again. The company did not respond.

Now, saying they have not received an adequate explanation from the company and that working conditions would not change unless someone took action, Mori's parents have filed a suit against Watami, its parent company, and the man who was Watami's president at the time of Mori's death. The Moris are seeking about 153 million yen (approximately $1.5 million) in damages.

"It is regrettable that we could not agree to settle the matter," Watami said in a statement. "We will make sure to take care of the case sincerely after reviewing the complaint."

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