The 58-year-old boss was found dead on Thursday in the French town of Belfort in the north eastern region of Bourgogne-Franche-Comté after he had been charged with harassing his employees the previous Wednesday.
An investigation has been opened into the cause of death, local prosecutor Emmanuel Dupic confirmed to the French press.
On Wednesday, the two owners, including the man found dead, of the Leclerc supermarket in the town of Héricourt and the commercial director had been charged with harassment against 25 employees.
A fourth person, the financial director, had been charged with complicity in psychological harassment.
According to local newspaper L'Est Républicain, the man was found dead after he had been released on bail.
The owners and the commercial director of the store are suspected of “humiliating [staff members], threatening behavior and remarks that have led many employees to suffer from burn-out or take sick leave, allowing employers to declare them unfit for their positions and fire them,” said the local prosecutor.
The situation came to light after an investigation took place in 2018 when 14 employees dismissed from this store filed a complaint with the police.
The investigation revealed that “significant moral harassment had been ongoing for nine years, with daily pressure on employees that led to physical and psychological distress”, according to the prosecutor.
Pregnant women and disabled staff were forced to carry out duties, including carrying heavy items, or work schedules unsuitable to their situations.