A male employee of Otsuka Foods has filed a ¥2.2 million lawsuit against the company for developing depression due to unfair treatment after making a whistleblower report over the company’s alleged wrongdoing.

The man, who filed the lawsuit on Monday at the Otsu District Court in Shiga Prefecture, claimed he suffered from depression after being reassigned and given little work.

According to the complaint, the man was responsible for product quality control at the company's Shiga plant in June 2022 when he reported to Shiga Prefecture that the company had failed to recall products after discovering the use of nonfood-grade bags.

The prefectural government issued administrative guidance. However, in March 2023, the man filed an internal report with Otsuka Holdings, the parent company, alleging a cover-up of the problem at the plant.

Following this internal report, he was reassigned to a department where he had no prior experience, given minimal work, and was subjected to what he referred to as "house arrest," as his supervisor would report him if he attempted to leave the room.

After being diagnosed with depression and taking a leave of absence, his working conditions still did not improve upon his return.

"I hope the company will comply with the Whistleblower Protection Act and take the case seriously," the man told a news conference after filing the lawsuit.

His lawyer added that the reassignment order was unreasonable.

Otsuka Foods stated that it has not yet received the complaint and cannot confirm its contents.

Translated by The Japan Times