​Samsung Brazil faces moral harassment charges

The company has agreed on a R$10m court settlement to avoid further trouble

Samsung is facing serious legal issues in Brazil following several claims of moral harassment perpetrated by senior members of staff.

As well as endless demands to deliver complex jobs under impossible deadlines and forcing staff to drink alcohol at happy hour sessions, employees told the Brazilian Labor Prosecution Office about abuse coming from directors, according to documents compiled during the audience and seen by newspaper Folha de São Paulo.

Senior executives would call their subordinates "lazy" and "dumb", would mock them about their English language skills and would even give them a hard time about their looks: a female member of staff was supposedly fired for being overweight, according to the documents.

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Samsung has now signed a conduct adjustment term, which settles the legal dispute and forces the company to invest R$5m ($1.6m) in corporate marketing campaigns about moral harassment or child labor to be aired on Brazilian TV, radio and to appear in mainstream print media. In addition, R$5m should be donated to non-profit institutions to be chosen by the Labor Courts.

The company will also have to report back to to the Labor Prosecution Office yearly on the improvements made and act upon any intimidating, discriminatory or coercive situations in its Brazilian offices. If it doesn't comply with the court order, another R$10m fine would be applicable as well as R$50,000 per new harassment claim.

A statement issued by Samsung says that "signing the the term does not imply a recognition of individual moral harassment to anyone" and that the company is committed to "treating staff with dignity and providing an environment that meets the highest standards of health, safety and wellbeing."

Samsung is no stranger to the labour courts in Brazil. In 2013, a lawsuit was filed against the company citing precarious working conditions imposed on its 6,000 employees at a manufacturing facility in Manaus, in the north of Brazil, where 2,000 employees had to take sick leave of up to 2 weeks in a single year due to issues such as back problems and repetitive strain injuries.

In 2011, the company had to pay R$500,000 ($158,000) in damages to employees at a facility in Campinas, in the state of São Paulo. At the time, employees described the working environment at the company as "terrifying," with staff constantly receiving threats from senior managers.

Updated Mar 13 2015 at 12.15AM UTC to clarify that Samsung has paid R$10m to avoid further legal action.

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