Labor authorities have recognized that the mental illness suffered by an executive of the Japanese leg of Swiss watchmaker Swatch Group Ltd was caused by bullying at the hands of the branch’s president, constituting an industrial accident, the employee’s union said Wednesday.
The executive, a Japanese woman in her 50s, claims she was relentlessly scolded by the president of Swatch Group (Japan) KK, a female foreign national, and subjected to power harassment, as workplace bullying is referred to in Japan.
The woman was allegedly frequently reprimanded with insults by the president, such as being told she was stupid, and accused of low performance, leading to her developing an adjustment disorder.
The executive took audio recordings of the alleged abuse and presented them to the Japan branch, requesting an apology. But she was ignored by the firm, the General Support Union said.
Speaking to Kyodo News, the branch recognized the labor authorities’ certification of the executive’s condition as an industrial accident, but said they had not specifically labeled the president’s actions as power harassment.
According to documents related to the certification by the Tokyo labor standards office, the executive joined the branch in 2008, taking charge of public relations.
But after the president assumed her post in March 2021, the executive was intensely criticized for the budget of a project. In August of the same year, the president gave her a low score on a performance evaluation, among other incidents, and she developed an adjustment disorder in September, the documents said.
The labor standards office determined the executive had suffered a heavy psychological burden and deemed her condition was the result of an industrial accident after receiving her claim in November 2022.
The executive said in an interview that she was abused due to a misunderstanding by the president, was held accountable for work outside her remit and told that she could be fired if she did not improve her performance.
Additionally, another former executive of the branch has come forward and said that “I became depressed due to being unreasonably scolded (by the president) and resigned.”
The union is calling for the president’s resignation, claiming she is unfit for her position.
Swatch Group is one of the world’s largest watch manufacturers and has local subsidiaries in several countries, including luxury brand Omega SA.