Woman forced to wear bunny ears as penalty for missing sales targets


A 61-year-old Japanese woman was forced to wear bunny ears as a penalty for missing her sales targets, with photos of her humiliation used in company training programmes, reports said.

The woman, who was not named, was employed by cosmetics maker Kanebo in southwestern Oita Prefecture.

She sued the company claiming mental distress after her bosses instructed her to don costumes if she did not meet her targets, including over-sized rabbit ears on one occasion, several papers reported.

Four of her seniors took pictures of her in the outfits and used the snaps in presentation slides during training programs, the Mainichi Shimbun said.

The woman claimed the company's actions had caused mental suffering that resulted in physical sickness and had demanded 3.3 million yen compensation, the paper said.

A court upheld her complaint, but ordered the company to pay just 220,000 yen, the Asahi daily said on Tuesday, adding the firm had given her a larger sum than this, according to her lawyer.

© (C) 2013. AFP

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Another case of bullying. If they can't get companies to stop bullying their employees how in the world do they think they can stop kids?

34 ( +36 / -2 )

A 61-year-old Japanese woman was forced to wear bunny ears

I feel sorry for.....the bunny ears.

-34 ( +3 / -37 )

What I fail to understand is why she complied with the outrageous demands of her bosses in the first place and THEN sued the company for emotional distress. I acknowledge that many employees in Japan are afraid to stand up for themselves, for fear of facing further penalization or losing their job, but any rationally thinking person would surely see that a "penalty" like this is going way too far, wouldn't they? Or wouldn't they? Unless, of course, I'm underestimating this woman, and it was simply that she saw a financial opportunity there. If so, I'm not sure it has paid off, however, even though the company apparently paid her more than the 220,000 yen ordered by the court. Whether they just rounded up to 300,000 or paid her considerably more, we'll never know, I guess.

-16 ( +1 / -17 )

Doubt if they'd subject a male employee to this type of punishment.

7 ( +15 / -8 )

These cosmetic companies are mostly run by women and are quite different from male dominated corporations. I find it hard to put into words, but their corporate culture is extremely hierarchical and drive by fear of being ostracised, far more so than companies run by men...makes me shiver just thinking about it. (let the flaming begin)

13 ( +14 / -1 )

YubaruJul. 05, 2013 - 07:15AM JST

Another case of bullying. If they can't get companies to stop bullying their employees how in the world do they think they can stop kids?

I think you're putting the horse before the cart.

The Japanese education system is using coercion less and less and this is very noticeable in the attitude of the under 40's in the workplace.

Once the over 50's have been retired out of the workplace, I think such incidences as this will become a feature of the historical workplace.

However I think the higher echelons of the LDP would like to see the japanese education system return to the days of old, so things might not change.

-3 ( +5 / -8 )

Ah, good old lip-service. You gotta love it when the courts say, "What was done was wrong, bbbbbuuuuutttt..." and protect the big boys, more or less given them free reign to do it again as they please and not suffer any serious consequences.

I agree with Yubaru -- if one of these company exec's child were being bullied and had mental suffering over it, you would bet he'd demand to know why and that something be done about it.

8 ( +11 / -3 )

The problem is that the wrong people are wearing bunny ears. I think it would be a good idea to force politicians to wear animal outfits according to how ludicrous their policies are. Abenomics merits the complete bunny outfit, I'm afraid, visitors to Yasukuni Shrine have to wear duck beaks etc.

11 ( +11 / -0 )

I'm sorry, this was just hilarious.

-7 ( +4 / -11 )

Japan is not medieval !!!.... why you laugh ?

18 ( +18 / -2 )

Punitive damages are not allowed in Japan under Japanese law.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

That is just too funny. Bullying indeed but still, nonetheless, funny. She should of made her sales.

-14 ( +1 / -15 )

This is another example of the pussification of humans in general. It has almost come to the point where every word out of your mouth or every action you do could get you in trouble. Maybe instead of wearing bunny ears they should have fired her.

I remember when I was a kid in kindergarten. If you fooled around, you were told to stand in the corner, face against the wall. Now a days that is considered child abuse by.

Some kid points his finger and says bang bang in jest and he gets expelled from school.

What a world we are making where lawsuits are more common than the common cold.

-6 ( +6 / -12 )

Motivation, J-style.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

A very childish punishment for a well known cosmetics company. Those in charge of promoting such un business behavior should be put on the carpet by superiors since it tarnishes the company image.

7 ( +7 / -0 )

I think you're putting the horse before the cart.

How so? It's adults that are both the source of the problem and solution as well. Kids learn about bullying from their surroundings and home-life and both.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Maybe her bosses are "Bunny-girl" freaks ? Childish mentality humiliating an employee but I believe it does start in schools where bullying goes unchecked and unpunished.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

This is an outrage. To humiliate a 61-year old woman and use these photos in a training video so others can see her appalling treatment is no laughing matter.

14 ( +15 / -1 )

I think they might have a better way of ensuring employees make their sales targets....

it's an idea called "commissions," I know it's kind of hard to understand, but it works like this:

Those salespeople that sell more, GET PAID MORE.

Those salespeople that sell less? They make less.

See, this way, employees will find their own reasons to become motivated.


Heck, you don't even need sales training. Just let them try whatever they want, they earn more, you earn more, everybody's happy.

8 ( +11 / -3 )

I think they might have a better way of ensuring employees make their sales targets.... it's an idea called "commissions," I know it's kind of hard to understand, but it works like this: Those salespeople that sell more, GET PAID MORE. Those salespeople that sell less? They make less. See, this way, employees will find their own reasons to become motivated. NO BUNNY EARS REQUIRED!>

Exactly. Good grief, Japanese companies look like idiots when you read things like this. It's almost like news from The Onion--in fact half of the news here IS news from The Onion.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

I wanna see some pics!

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

@namaman: Actually the bosses of this company are men :)

Btw Kanebo is having a bad week, first the bad cosmetics, now this.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Well, wearing bunny ears is better than being fired, especially at her age. Of course, she could have always said no. Another episode of "Only in Japan".

-3 ( +3 / -6 )

People in this cold world need to start standing up for one another. It`s the only this kind of crap will end.

4 ( +5 / -1 )

The acts of humiliation that occur here are surreal....

4 ( +6 / -2 )

In my experience Japanese management, coaching and parenting tends more toward the stick approach to motivation, rather than the carrot, regularly in the form of vicious and relentless public humiliation — "It's your fault our team lost. YOU are stupid." From what I have seen, employee or athlete targets of this abuse never fight back, but instead are often reduced to tears.

All that said, usually these sorts of penalties (for not meeting a sales quota, for instance) come in the form of a tongue lashing attacking the person. I have yet to see bunny ears or other 'props' involved in the humiliation strategy.

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Another example of bullying that is so pervasive on these isles practiced by young to old sadly.

And even worse is to have the "courts" ENDORESE bullying by their pathetic ruling, for shame!

Bullying sadly is VERY much a part of being Japanese, one trait Japan would be wise to lose! But of course it wont, only lip service allowed than its abck to bullying as usual!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

she should sue the court for giving her only 2 ju man.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

This sale target in Japan is really putting a lot of pressure on workers, Japanese people deserve much more than this, they really try their best in 99.9% of cases and companies are .... Modern Day Slavery?!!!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Did they duct tape them to her ears?

1 ( +2 / -1 )

papigiulio: That may be true, but my experience is women rule the halls in places like Kanebo.

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Magnet, spot on.

At 61, she was still hoping to reach 65 to collect a full pension. Until then, she probably felt she had to put up with anything.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

I thought bunny ears are cute?

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

where is the link to the pictures???

-2 ( +1 / -3 )

Power woman at their worst

-4 ( +1 / -5 )

i find out here some wacked up teacher tapes a child mouth and now this?! this is disgusting, extremely disappointing too. japan is becoming the worst part of the world. so glad i don't live there

1 ( +3 / -2 )

I though head-shaving was the de rigeur punishment for female employees in Japan.

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

Haha, I just stood on my soap box in the '7 year old gets mouth taped' thread, asserting humilation is not used in the work place so why use it in schools!?....then the next story I see is this. Unfortunately I stand corrected.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Who thought that was a good idea? I always learned to praise in public and punish in private. Reward people publicly, don't demean them in front of the entire company. Whoever did this is a dick.

10 ( +11 / -1 )

Why is wearing bunny ears a form of punishment, while other women in Tokyo are wearing cat ears in public? Bunnies not Kawaii?

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

Next it will be dog collars and crawling on the ground.

Or, has that happened already.

J. courts are notorious for awarding damages that can essentially pay for three hours of an attorney's time. So, no attorneys will take cases of worker abuse, sexual harassment, etc.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Japanese are not known for their sensitivity towards others feelings in the workplace so this is hardly surprising. No wonder more than half the female population doesn't want to return to work after having children.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

What makes this such a problem in this digital age is that she was photographed.

Until recently, things like this would embarrass someone for a day, then afterwards even for the punish-ee it could be laughed off and forgotten. Today, that photo can live on forever in an infinite number of digital copies, with the person in it being "tagged" on sites like Facebook, and may well become the number-one hit if the person's name is searched for in Google. (This woman was wise not to give her name in this story.)

It might sound a little nanny-state-ish, and I'm generally on the side of less government, but I'd like to see stricter laws about photographing someone when they don't wish to be photographed. Photos can turn a moment of humiliation into a lifetime of humiliation.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

"I thought bunny ears are cute?"

Generally not on 61 year old women!

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

She could have just quit....

-3 ( +1 / -4 )

agreed, bullying plain and simple, those guys miss their high school jaunt so they're finding ways to reenact it in their workplace

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Unfortunate she didn't get more, the article doesn't say if she got fired or quit or is still there, but I would think more than one month's salary necessary in damages while she looks for different work. Not to mention make it painful enough for the company that they think twice about doing it again.

Absolutely awful. Glad she had the courage to take them to court.

2 ( +2 / -0 )


I feel sorry for.....the bunny ears.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

What kind of company creates an incentive like "bunny ears" for missing a KPI?

What's next to motivate employees -- injecting caffeine in the water coolers? A round of layoffs? Urinal cakes in the Men's restroom?

We all miss our KPIs from time to time, which is no reason to treat a person disrespectfully.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

You know which company you wanna tell your GF to boycott ;)

3 ( +3 / -0 )

It seems like a manga scene. O_o

-2 ( +0 / -2 )

bullying everywhere...

4 ( +4 / -0 )

What disgusting, demeaning thing to do to a 61 year old woman.

3 ( +4 / -1 )

I can't stand it...

1 ( +2 / -1 )

I dont understand why she didnt just refuse to do it. They can hardly fire her for refusing to wear bunny ears!

Regardless - wont be buying Kanebo products ever again.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

These cosmetic companies are mostly run by women

That's what I thought until I had to research some - same Japan Inc. oyaji line up on the boards.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

Like the story about the unfortunate seven year old and duct tape, this is an example of unforgivable behaviour by superiors. Quite disgusting behaviour by this company.

2 ( +2 / -0 )

Was she also ordered to lean against the wall of a deparment store, chomp on a carrot, and loudly quip, "Eh, what's up doc?" customers who passed by?

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

If this woman was forced to wear bunny ears for missing her sales targets, her boss should have ben forced to commit seppuku.

Yeah, well, the whole thing is absolutely ridiculous.

2 ( +3 / -1 )

Sorry, folks. I'm (conditionally) siding w/ the Company in this case (at least until better info comes out).

ChibaChick is right. They couldn't practically fire her for refusing to wear the bunny ears. However they could fire her for failing to meet the requirements of her job ie meet sales goals. This article doesn't give any reason to believe bullying was the intent even if that may have been the result.

That said, if this had been US business and if she is a consistently poor performer, the company may have been trying to get her to quit so she couldn't sue for ageism. Or it could be a set-up so they won't have to pay her retirement benefits.

-5 ( +0 / -5 )

She has a huge opportunity now to turn this scenario to her advantage. Start a new company "Happy Cute Bunny". No publicity is bad publicity. Go girl, go!

-1 ( +1 / -2 )

I can understand putting bunny ears if the lady is young and just starting the career, provided that the boss will pay for this, but they need to respect a senior girl of 61.

-3 ( +0 / -3 )

Sales targets in a recession is, not to put too fine a point on it, madness. If there are too many people chasing too few sales, then it's obvious that people will not make their sales targets. Glad I don't work in that environment. I did once, though, and got out of it as soon as possible.

As for the ears... humiliation is not the way to get people to perform better. You need a market hungry for what you're selling... demotivating staff won't make a blind bit of difference.

If they insist with this kind of behaviour, then I believe that a custard pie in the sales manager's mush should be used every time one of his staff drops below a sales target... the buck stops with the boss.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

Japan bullying everywhere; at school, at work, on TV. When are you going to stop it?

Are you still allowing some hitting each others heads on TV? It is just disgusting and it is not funny at all. This needs to be stopped. Please, please stop.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

It would be funny if EVERYBODY boycotted KANEBO for their horrible actions against this one female worker! See if they are happy to get less and less $$?? I, for one, will never buy anymore Kanebo products! Good on this 61 year old woman!

1 ( +2 / -1 )

Given that the plaintiff in this case is a 61 year-old woman, I assume that Kanebo hazed this employee in an attempt to get her to quit her job. And I'm guessing that since this woman took the extraordinary (in Japan) step of actually suing Kanebo in a court of law, that the hazing achieved its goal. Tip of the iceberg? If Kanebo hazed this one employee to get her to quit, it is most likely a common practice within the company. It would be nice to see some articles on this wider topic: How Japanese companies haze older employees into quitting their jobs.

1 ( +2 / -1 )


-2 ( +1 / -3 )

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