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Family sues drugstore operator over daughter's suicide due to alleged power harassment

Tomoko Tsushima, the mother of Miki Tsushima, speaks at a press conference after filing a suit against her daughter's employer, in Osaka's Kita Ward on April 26, 2019. (Mainichi/Maiko Umeda)

OSAKA -- Power harassment by superiors including the company president caused a local drugstore employee's suicide, alleges a suit filed here on April 26 by the woman's family against the store operator and its chief.

The family of Miki Tsushima, aged 30 at the time of her death on Jan. 4, 2016, is demanding about 88 million yen in damages. According to the complaint filed at the Osaka District Court, Tsushima began working at a dispensary in Suita, Osaka Prefecture, as a clerk in October 2014. She was in charge of arranging an employee trip, and meetings about the retreat sometimes kept her at work past midnight.

The filing furthermore states that Tsushima was verbally abused by her supervisor during the trip and subsequently developed body tremors, lost her appetite and stopped smiling. She was diagnosed with depression in August the following year. Tsushima had been scheduled to talk with the drugstore operator on Jan. 4, 2016 about taking leave, but she killed herself before going to work that day.

Her family claims that the company failed to take appropriate measures such as reducing her work hours or allowing her to take leave despite being aware of her depression. The family then accuses the firm of neglecting its duty to give consideration to her health.

An attorney representing the family disclosed that at least five other employees had quit the drugstore for reasons including power harassment while Tsushima was working there.

Her mother, Tomoko Tsushima, 59, met reporters after filing the suit. "Power harassment can happen anywhere. I want people suffering from such abuse to know that they are not in the wrong," she said with tears in her eyes.

The company declined to comment on the case, saying it has "yet to receive the complaint."

(Japanese original by Fumie Togami, Osaka City News Department)

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