A worker at a McDonald’s branch in Japan died of “karoshi” — the Japanese term for death from overwork — according to officials at the local government labor bureau. The employee, a 41-year-old woman, had put in about 80 hours a month in overtime for six months before she died. “We determined her work caused the illness,” said an official at the agency.
The worker died in October 2007, after collapsing during a company training program. McDonald’s Japan has yet to comment on the case, saying the company hadn’t been contacted by authorities and needed to confirm the labor bureau’s findings. In an earlier karoshi-related case, McDonald’s paid a worker $75,000 in back overtime wages after his doctor warned him he was risking a stroke by working too hard.
The term “karoshi” is used by the Japanese government to refer to deaths — usually from heart attack or stroke — that are connected to excessive work. Approximately 150 workers die of karoshi each year, according to government data. Companies in Japan are increasingly being held liable for karoshi-related deaths and illnesses; earlier this year, a judge ruled that a man’s suicide was due to his working conditions, and ordered his employer to pay $1.2 million to his surviving relatives.
(Photo: hassan abdel-rahman)