Korea Otsuka Pharmaceutical is under criticism for not listening to the victim of sexual harassment and applying only a slap-on-the-wrist to the perpetrator.
On Tuesday, news reports said the company’s senior employee sexually molested a junior female worker during a company trip late last year. Following the reports, the company decided to remove the perpetrator’s job title and cut his wages, but observers criticized that such decision came without consideration of the victim’s opinions.
Korea Otsuka sent out a statement to all employees on Thursday, explaining the result of the disciplinary committee’s review of the in-house sexual harassment case between the team head and the junior female employee.
The company told employees that it decided to dismiss the position of the sexual harassment inflictor, move him to the human resources team, and cut his salary up to 10 percent per month.
“We received an official complaint about an internal sexual harassment incident that occurred during an overseas company workshop. We immediately took steps to investigate the situation and moved the victim to another division to protect her. This was an interim measure, under the consent of the victim, so that there would be no secondary damage,” the company’s disciplinary committee’s statement said.
According to sources, the victim issued an official complaint about the inflictor’s inappropriate behaviors such as dragging her to a dark alley and forcefully touching on her. However, the company let the team captain continue his work and transferred the victim, prompting criticism that she might suffer secondary damage.
Korea Biomedical Review has learned that the company never asked the victim for an agreement for the move, in contrast to the company’s statement.
Sources said the “under the consent of the victim” part of the statement was a lie.
The victim was furious that the company’s punishment on the perpetrator – wage cut up by a maximum of 10 percent per month – was too weak.
“Compared with previous sexual abuses cases in the company, the latest discipline is too weak,” an official at Korea Otsuka Pharmaceutical said, on the condition of anonymity. “I heard the inflictor attacked another employee on the day that the incident occurred. I don’t understand how the punishment could be this lenient.”
According to internal rules of Korea Otsuka, obtained by Korea Biomedical Review, there are five types of punishment – warning, reprimand, wage cut, suspension, and disciplinary dismissal.
A written apology can cover warning and reprimand. Wage cut is done within 10 percent of the salary.
If an employee has a clear achievement that helped the company to grow or received a corporate commendation or an award, the company can reduce the level of punishment.
Some company officials assume that the company decided for a weak punishment, considering the perpetrator’s significant contribution to the revenue.
“Some say the perpetrator was in a superior position because he had a high position and contributed to the company’s sales. So, internally, his assault case is being hushed up,” another company official said.
“As far as I know, the victim is not accepting the company’s punishment (on the perpetrator). She is also worrying that people might think as if she’s making a big deal out of it,” he said.
In previous sexual abuse cases, victims leave the company, in the end, the official said. “This kind of situation is ridiculous,” he said.
Korea Otsuka said the company immediately took actions to investigate the case and protect the victim, and that it did not have any intention to delay the punishment.
The company said it would not tolerate any sexual abuse incident, firmly respond to it, strengthen education to prevent recurrence, and enhance corporate rules.
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