Dentsu, ad/PR firm with $1.67 trillion in income and 47,300 employees, has been formally charged with illegal overtime practices following the death of 24-year-old Matsuri Takahashi in 2015.
Tadishi Ishii, CEO of Dentsu, who resigned Dec. 25, 2016, told a news conference he was taking the suicide “seriously.” The company now turns off lights at 10 p.m. as part of the reforms.
Takahashi cited workloads that lasted through the weekend and totaled more than 100 hours a month in overtime.
A report of the Japanese Labor Bureau in October found that nearly a quarter of companies surveyed said some of their employees were putting in more than 80 hours of overtime monthly. The Bureau in October ruled the death of Takahashi was due to overwork.
The Bureau raided four Dentsu offices in October. It said the company was "cooperating fully" but attempts to address the culture of overwork were "superficial."
The Asahi Shimbun newspaper said the Tokyo District Public Prosecutors Office is seeking a fine against Dentsu.
Takahashi was in the digital account division which was charged with "systematic overbilling and cheating of customers."
Dentsu PR is a small part of the parent, reporting $11 million in revenues and 243 employees for 2015. Young & Rubicam is Dentsu's U.S. advertising affiliate.
Dentsu PR, calling itself Japan's largest PR firm, in 2010 allied with the MSL Group of Publicis. However, Maurice Levy, Publicis CEO, said the tie ended years ago.
Takahashi Tweeted Complaints
Takahashi tweeted that not only was she made to work too many extra hours but that she was bullied by her bosses who found fault with her work. Tweets said bosses complained that she was coming to work with “messy hair and bloodshot eyes” and her appearance lacked “femininity.”
In one of her final messages before she jumped to her death from a Dentsu dormitory last Christmas, she tweeted, “They’re making me work Saturdays and Sundays again. I seriously want to end it all. It’s 4 a.m. and my body’s trembling. I'm going to die. I'm so tired."
The charges against Dentsu were referred to the prosecutors office for alleged violations of the Labor Standards Act. This is the first instance of a Dentsu executive resigning ahead of schedule in at least 40 years, said Japanese media.